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The School Food System: The Flaws

When looking at the the diet of the average teenager, especially an American teenager, it isn’t exactly the most refined. America is known for it’s unhealthy and heavily processed food filled diet, which easily translates into the school systems. The food options in American schools are very basic: lots of processed foods that make an easy snack and few unprocessed or healthy options for students. Besides the lack of proper nutrition in American schools, there is also a lack of accommodations for students with limitations to their diet or certain preferences. It makes the students who may rely on school lunches/meals stuck in a hard place, either continue to eat the few items they can have or not eat anything that day. So the big question here is, should American schools be the start of a country-wide diet change? Should the American food system accommodate those a little better than they already have?

Bedford High School is one of many high schools in America that only caters to the average teenager due to its limited access to food options. However, not all of these foods are edible enough for certain students. The cafeteria options are limited; it lacks foods fit for vegetarians or vegans, and those with lactose intolerance or celiac disease. Of course some of the snacks can cater to these restrictions, but like it’s been mentioned, these snacks are not the healthiest choice. It is not the school’s fault, but rather the country as a whole who provides the food that doesn’t cater to alternative diets.

A Bedford High School student who chooses to remain anonymous for privacy tells us about their experience. “I have to always bring my own lunch, because all the cafeteria lunches contain meat! Even the salads. I just don’t have any options to rely on.” Another anonymous source comments, “It gets tiring eating the same chips and bars from the vending machines, and sometimes the lunches are low-quality with the same few options.”

Students of just one American high school realize how their school’s provided food isn’t up to par as it should be. They agree with the sentiment that school meals should be up to par,  and need to provide a variety of foods for many different reasons.

Everyone understands how hard it is to cater to every person in a school. Some have dietary restrictions, allergies, or preferences which makes everything more complicated for businesses to provide school food. There doesn’t need to be a million options in the America High School cafeterias, but there does need to be alternative options for those  who have no other options but school lunches. Bedford High School should be the first to change it’s lunch systems and promote healthy, alternative options for those who need it.

The town of Bedford is lucky enough to have a District Wellness Committee. This committee works to better the diets of the students and provide them with balanced foods. Emily Murphy, the head of the Bedford committee claims that “everything is made form scratch. The staff who make the lunches are trained to make these foods so we limit the amount of processed foods in the students lunches.”

Emily brings up how making all of these homemade meals is very time consuming, the problem with providing more options is the lack of staff. “The students want to have the salad bar, or sandwich bar back, but because of the short staff, there is no way that could happen.” Emily understands how hard it is to accommodate students, and that an attempt to make it better requires help. It becomes clear that Bedford schools need more staff and volunteers in order to start to fix this system.