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While the idea of providing solid nutrition and food to school aged children is a good one, it has been met with much controversy and resistance from students. Many students are rejecting the new lunches and complaining of hunger. So, what can we do now?

One of the top complaints about the new school lunch programs comes from teens, especially those teens that are active in school sports and extracurricular activities. The new school lunch caps the calorie count for high school students at 850. Students have been complaining that this is just not enough food and that they are hungry.

Students are now receiving more whole grains, more vegetables and fruit, low-fat dairy choices, less fat and sodium and calorie limits as determined by school age. 

Managing Hunger 

Aside from counting calories, it may be important to teach children how to manage their hunger. Children go through many growth spurts and increases in appetite go hand in hand with that growth.

Stressing the importance of eating breakfast may help to curb hunger.

According to a recent survey, less than 40 percent of teens eat breakfast every day. This is a real problem. Additionally, not eating breakfast has been repeatedly linked to weight gain in teens. Those who skip breakfast tend to eat more during the rest of the day and hunger tends to lend itself to making poor nutritional choices. 

Marketing The New Lunches 

While eating healthy is good for our bodies, many people, including children, associate the word “healthy” with tasteless food choices. While nutritional value and health benefits may be good motivators for adults, children tend to be motivated to eat by the way the item tastes. If the children deem healthy food as tasting bad, then they will be resistant to eating it. Perhaps a change in the way the new program is marketed is in order. Putting the focus on taste and fulfillment, rather than the term “healthy”, may be a good place to start. 

How Kids Eat 

Unfortunately, many children are not fans of veggies and fruits, and will almost always choose something else over the healthy produce options. Perhaps it will just take a little bit longer for those kids to accept the idea of a new, healthy lunch.

Along this same point is the time kids are given to finish lunches. A large percentage of school children complain that they just do not have enough time to eat. In this case, many children will grab the most desirable item on their lunch tray, eat it and there go the veggies into the garbage. Perhaps those students need to be taught how to enjoy food and be given enough time to eat properly. 

This new school lunch initiative has many valid points, such as providing food to children in need and upping the nutritional value and quality of school lunches. However, it has been met with some resistance, especially by the students. There is more to becoming a healthy eater than just being given a plate of healthy food. These children need to be educated in the health benefits of making healthy choices, as well as be given an adequate amount of time to finish lunches and to warm up to the idea. It will likely be a group effort of school, community and family that is needed to make this program work. Patience is required, as much time will likely be needed to transform our students into healthy eaters.