As early as the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s there has been concern about the health of the nation’s youth. It started with the Department of Defense’s concern about the malnutrition of potential recruits, finding that the youth wasn’t healthy enough to join the military. Today, the DOD still has a concern, but for the opposite reason, obesity. What was turning kids away because they were too malnutrition has turned into turning them away because they are too overweight – which is the main medical reason cited in 2009. In 1958, the subsidized lunch was a great alternative in the rising costs in the economy. A lunch provided to a child in Los Angeles cost only 30 cents. This meal included a good sized portion of Grade A beef in the form of a hamburger, a grilled cheese sandwich, and a desert. In 1970, because of the lack of help from local and state entities, the school lunch program was only reaching about 50% of the US youth. By 1977, the US government was spending $2 billion a year on the school lunch program. The General Accounting Office had this to say in a report, “The government-subsidized school lunch served to 25 million American school children may be harmful to their health. While the standard lunch provides a valuable source of nourishment for some children, it may lead to obesity in others and is not effective in combating iron deficiency because of the large portions serves and lack of supplemental nutrients such as iron.” In response, the Agriculture Department’s Food and Nutrition responded by saying there was no way to address these nutritional concerns. In 1981, in an effort to reduce costs due to budgetary concerns, a proposal was made that was highly controversial – counting ketchup and pickle relish as a vegetable. President Reagan cancelled this proposal within 15 days of its presentation. The average weight of the nation’s children has been climbing since the 1980’s. As of 2011, 1 in 3 children would be considered overweight or obese. The concern has been presented that if things continue to head in the same direction, by 2030, around half of all Americans will be obese. In 2010, Michelle Obama started the Let’s Move! Campaign to try to combat the rising obesity concerns. In addition, she also back the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids act. This action would propose stricter nutrition standards and was initially backed by both lunch workers and food companies. Parents, children, government, and business official are all affected by the decisions that that are made. It’s clear that the health of the nation’s children is a major concern, but who should be dictating what they eat?
It is the responsibility of the government to provide Americans with all the opportunities they can to have a happy life. At the same time, they need to be concerned with the future of its citizens. The government would argue that they are just doing what is best for the children by determining what should be served in schools. As part of their duty, and the fact that they are subsidizing the school lunch programs, they are responsible for what is served. They are concerned that the choices being offered to children include many high-calorie, high-sodium choices such as chips and processed foods. These lack of nutritional choices at school are contributing to the overall health decline of today’s youth.
Opponents of the government-controlled school lunch program would voice their concerns with