Kitchen Conviction? A Conundrum

School food may not be the healthiest option when it comes to nutrition

Adrian Torres, Contributor

Do you remember when your parents tried to force you to eat healthy?

“Eat your asparagus, Lisa.”

“If you want dessert, finish your entire plate.”

Of course, this was done for a reason: they wanted you to gain every benefit of each morsel contained within the dish. And of course, you usually obeyed with the threat of some petty punishment.

Food is meant to fulfill the nutritional needs of humans and continue the process of metabolism in order to survive; proteins for muscles, fats for energy, vitamins and minerals are needed for the various functions of the body. Long before processing, that’s all that food is: the basic materials and components necessary for man to live and evolve. Present day foods lack those nutrients that humans need as the foods are processed to a certain degree and are stripped of those elements.

School lunches fall into that unsatisfactory category of processed foods that inadequately supply the human machine.

Among those packaged hot pockets, odd tasting chicken sandwiches, and that obscure I-don’t-quite-know-what’s-it’s-made-out-of Chinese chow mein with “beef” are loads of chemicals, substitutes, and preservatives that serve absolutely no benefit other than keeping the food “fresh” as long as possible. Most of the nutrition standards are set back by the plethora of chemicals in the food. If you have a hard time swallowing this, then read the back of the next packaged lunch you receive.

Don’t get too hopeful that complaining to the Health Board or even the publishing of an article is going to change anything. In 2010, the No Hungry Kids Act was passed to combat the lack of nutritional value in school lunches. It also ensures that every student has a chance to a “decent” school lunch.  While it does set new standards for lunches such as more availability of vegetables and the reduction of sodium, that does not mean that they are particularly more nutritious or appetizing at all. As far as the government and USDA are concerned, the problem is fixed.

Now let’s see what students think about the food sold at La Serna.

“I’ve had it a few times during freshman year. I would tend not to eat it because they don’t have a lot of vegetarian options… I would definitely like more vegetarian and vegan options for those with certain dietary needs” -Clarissa Buendia, junior.

“…it’s nominally tolerable… I don’t really buy lunch because I don’t really enjoy the food, so I pack my own lunch” -Dana Chin, junior. 

“…yeah, maybe there’s vegetables here and there, but it doesn’t really add up to what they serve–and it’s not very good.” -Nathan Ra, junior. 

The discontent among students is widespread; many do not favor the flavors that La Serna has to offer. Maybe more legislation can be passed to further improve the quality of taste and nutrients that encompasses vegan / vegetarian options as well. Maybe some of us will live to see it.