Quick Takes: Hunger-Free Kids Act


Legislation Ignores Fact That Students Differ in Caloric Needs

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 — the signature piece of Michelle Obama’s quest to combat childhood obesity — has received a myriad of complaints because of the lack of quantity in school lunches.

While the First Lady’s effort to fight childhood obesity is laudable and a step in the right direction, it nonetheless negates the students’ need to feed their own appetite. The legislation’s negative effects must be addressed, especially when taking into account the students who require additional calories, such as student athletes.

For starters, the legislation requires high school lunches to have no more than 850 calories, with an emphasis on fruits and vegetable. The policy also does not take into measure children who require different caloric intakes, since the legislation inaccurately assumes universality: boys and girls are on the same meals, regardless of height, size and weight.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), approximately 55 percent of students participate in sports or other calorie-burning activities such as dance and ROTC.  The Sept. 24 Daily Mail article “We’re Hungry!” reports that student athletes, can burn up to 5,000 calories a day — and with the new regulation will only be able to consume 20 percent of what they burn.

Providing student athletes with larger portions would help them on the field, and in the classroom. It is understandable that the First Lady has taken measures to combat childhood obesity, but our student athletes — who roughly account for half of high school students — require additional nutrition. While on the quest to eliminate childhood obesity, one must not forget that all students are not built the same.

— Vivek Patel
Contributing Writer

New Lunch Program Will Help Curb Childhood Obesity

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFK) passed in December 2010 improves the nutritional quality of school lunches by including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and limiting calories. This lunch program will help curb the growth of childhood obesity and instill healthy eating habits in our youth.

In our nation, one in three children — or 24 million — are obese or overweight, which is nearly triple the rate as of 1963, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is also prevalent among children, with a diagnosis rate of 1 in 400. Clearly, U.S. children are not as healthy as they could be, and this bill will help guide children toward healthier lifestyles.

Critics claim that the limits placed on school lunches of 850 calories for high school students, 700 calories for middle school students and 650 calories for elementary students is a draconian infringement of civil rights and that these smaller meals do not adequately fill students up. To be clear to these critics, this bill only affects lunches provided by the National School Lunch Program, i.e. subsidized school lunches for low-income families.

Parents can opt to pack brown bag lunches for their kids to complement their school lunches if they feel that the portions are too small. As for the caloric limits, ABC News reports that those do not apply to servings of fruits and vegetables; students can always return for second servings.

HHFK is a bill that needed to be passed. This bill addresses obesity in this country by working with the people that can benefit the most, the kids.

— Aleks Levin
Senior Staff Writer 

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