No one wants to eat public school lunch. But there are many children and families who depend on it. Public school lunch is bad and has been bad since American television shows were in black and white. Students have always expressed disdain over the school nutrition program.
What does it take to get healthy, quality, good food in public schools for children?
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the school lunch program countrywide. They are tasked to actually improve the quality of school nutrition program food.
The Obama Administration made the most strides in improving the school nutrition program nationwide. However, major rollbacks under the previous administration caused major setbacks according to the Washington School of Public Health.
Voter education is vitally important to voter engagement for school board elections. The persons who influence our federal and local policies and budgets should be held accountable to ensuring our dollars are going towards the best options for our children in public schools.
According to the article, “The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act changed nutrition standards for the National School Lunch Program by requiring that schools serve more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free and/or low-fat milk more frequently and less starchy vegetables or foods high in sodium and trans fat. The Obama-era policy has since seen a series of rollback measures.”
Students aren’t just settling for improved lunches; they want innovation in how we operate nutrition and wellness programs.
Atlanta students have ideas that would help improve the quality of food services in nutrition programs at their schools. Their ideas are:
- Ensure each school has a school garden and a partnership with a community farm.
- Ensure each school has a recycling/compost program to improve environmental health and safety.
- Improve the nutrition workforce and provide workforce development training at each school for students.
Atlanta students want to see local schools connecting with communities through partnerships with organizations working to improve health and wellness. “We should be actively engaged in bringing forth solutions for the issue of food deserts in many high poverty and lower income communities in Atlanta,” says a high school senior and student leader at the Historic Booker T. Washington High School.
The students also want to see cleaner and more energy efficient programs on recycling, clean air and water. Expanding access to the community that includes collaborations with programs at the AUC schools, GA State, GA Tech, Emory and other universities with satellite locations in Atlanta on the science around this work.
“We should be learning how we not only impact but can improve our local water systems in Atlanta before we can get out and do it in the world,” said one student at Herman J. Russell Middle School.
Three Truths EdLanta Student Leaders Want You To Know:
- Your property taxes go into general funds of the school system.
- The Atlanta Public Schools system is spending $32.6 million on school nutrition according to the final copy of the 2021 budget.
- You can request an audit of nutrition efficiency of school lunches.
Recently the EdLanta Student Coalition called for an audit of the individualized health plans of each APS school part of our environmental justice campaign.
The EdLanta Student Coalition is advocating for improved school nutrition programs and spending for healthier, fresh food items. Our next demand will be to determine how much of the money allocated for school nutrition is being set aside for health inspection audits of the quality of food.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.