There is a topic of conversation around a lunch table in high school that I so vividly remember, and post-millennial students probably too. Michelle Obama, First Lady, had a campaign throughout her time spent in the White House to work on the issue of childhood obesity in America. One way she decided to combat that was set up a set of standards that all schools must abide by in order to provide healthy and nutritious lunches to public school students.
The guidelines for school lunches are as follows:
1 serving of fruit must be provided per school lunch.
1 serving of vegetables must be provided per school lunch, and one dark green, orange, or starchy vegetables per week.
Daily and weekly minimum for meat, or meat alternative.
The guidelines for school breakfast are as follows:
1 serving of fruit must be provided per school breakfast
1 meat or meat alternative must be provided per school breakfast.
Breakfasts must be offered on all school days.
So these requirements don't seem so bad. So why do your school lunches taste and look so pathetic? I can relate, as my senior year of high school, I documented my school lunches frequently, emphasizing their lack of nutrition or flavor. They were overpriced and hardly considered edible at times. I get it, school lunches usually suck, and students often times resort to snack bars and vending machines to eat while at school.
What you do not realize is that this was not Michelle Obama's doing. Michelle did not "ruin our school lunches" nor did she "take away all of our good foods."
These guidelines are enforced through every school district in America, and if schools do not abide by them, they can be held fiscally responsible.
Because schools wanted to alter their lunch program as little as possible while avoiding economic punishment, they resorted to cutting corners and taking away options that seem better. Many schools often resort to outsourcing to companies that run lunch programs instead. A popular and cheap option for school is Sodexo, who have a bad reputation among students for their strange policies, and overpriced food.
When I went to high school, a student could not eat lunch if they did not have enough money in their account, and they would throw that student's tray in the trash. Why put the food to waste when there is a hungry student?
Also, you cannot get two servings of the same fruit or vegetable, or it will not count, and you will be charged for each side separately, which can add up quickly.
Not only that, but serving sizes are often times particularly small. This is because schools must stay within caloric guidelines, while still serving students the meals they prefer, which results in much smaller portions.
This was not Michelle Obama's plan. It was not to serve kids gross meals and charge them several dollars for it. The problem is that schools have to cut corners to make things work without too much change, and that is a problem within the school district and their decision to outsource.