Healthy Kids Act enrages CF student

Dear Editors:

I am a senior at Cedar Falls High School, and I am enrolled in Mr. Winkel’s American Literature: 1930’s to Today class. Recently in class we have read Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” which is why I am here today. This piece has inspired me to take action and express my views on the Healthy Kids Act that is gradually spreading through the schools in Iowa, one being Cedar Falls.

The Healthy Kids Act (HKA) was passed and went into effect on July 1, 2010. Its goals are to provide healthy eating habits and to promote active lifestyles for all students. Of course, it really didn’t have any effect on any kid until Aug. 26, 2010, the first day of school.

However, since this day, numerous kids have been complaining about the food choices in the lunch room, and I can’t disagree. Everything that students can purchase in the lunch room has to be approved by the HKA and now comes in a much smaller portion. First off, what puzzles me is that students can buy as much food as they want, so the idea of smaller portioned meals, in my eyes, brings no benefit. Secondly, this is leading more students to leave school and go to somewhere fast like McDonald’s, where they are eating food that is far from a healthy diet.  Lastly, students who choose to stay at school hold off their hunger till they get home, then pig out.

This act is certainly not benefiting the cafeteria budgets either, and it is not solving anything because kids are finding ways around it. Just like Dr. King said, “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself.”

He also said, “We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with.” I believe now is the time to take a stand on this issue. It is obvious the cons of the HKA overrule the pros. If we deal with this issue now, there will be less chaos that our school and state will have to deal with if we wait. The longer we stick with this Act, the more people are able to get involved and strong opinions will begin to emerge. It won’t be just students who will be facing this issue, but parents as well. Most importantly, this Act isn’t preventing students from eating; it’s just stopping them from eating much in the school cafeteria.

Another point I would like to bring out is where this Healthy Kids Act leads us to in the future. Are we going to be a nation that is controlled by the law on what we want to eat? How much farther are we going to force whole grains and the right number of sugars, carbs and calories? We know it is not stopping what kids eat at home or anywhere besides the cafeteria. What is the point in which we let students decide for themselves what is wrong and what is right for them to eat. What one chooses to do with one’s body is his or her choice, and it has no effect on anybody else.

Although obesity may seem like a growing problem in America, we also are struggling with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, and for those who are victims, an act like this is only making matters worse.

My plan to override this act is to make my views strong across the state. Sharing my opinion will help others see the benefit to maintaining your own diet and not having someone tell you what to eat. They will see that trying to get schools to abide by this law is not benefiting anyone but the owners of fast food restaurants.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”  There are many more issues our state, let alone nation, needs to worry about. If people really feel strongly about obesity in America, there are several other ways we can promote a healthy lifestyle, but telling someone what and what not to eat is not right.

The Healthy Kids Act truly does not prevent or help anything for the better; it is just another law that students can easily find a legal way around.

Respectfully,

Desi Deery

senior

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