Consider options for school lunches

Vincent Stigliani/Editor-in-Chief

Since the early 1980s, the childhood obesity rates in America have nearly tripled. Today, the number hovers around 33 percent.

National initiatives like the ramping up of physical education in school have dampened the ascending rates. Even so, the prevalence is still far too high. Perhaps more can be done here at the local level to chop away at this epidemic.

One potential slice through this Gordian Knot could lie in the way we go about school lunches. Physical activity undeniably serves as an essential component to the solution, but it only addresses how we should shed the pounds. It says nothing of how we acquire them.

There has been a growing movement, especially here in the Cedar Valley, to push school lunches towards fresh, local, prepared-from-scratch meals, more fruits and vegetables and less sugar and fat. This year Price Lab launched such a program and has had overwhelmingly positive results. Purchasing food from nine different local suppliers, they have seen an increase in the number of lunches served. Satisfaction with the lunch has increased as well.

One concern is that such an initiative is not feasible at a larger school like Cedar Falls. Another local example would suggest the contrary. This year Waterloo Community Schools provided 1,200 pounds of grapes, 50 bushels of apples and a variety of other fruits and vegetables all grown by local farmers. Next year’s plans include serving local produce daily and re-designing kitchens for the program.

This movement is quickly gathering steam, and it would be wise for Cedar Falls High School to seriously consider it. If executed properly, it could yield a multitude of positive effects: stimulation of the local economy, increased nutritional value and satisfaction in lunches and a school with a reputation for foresight and innovation.

Now there’s some food for thought.

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