Healthy school food is destined to fail


By Nick Fiorillo

Even though more opportunities to eat healthier have been introduced into the ways Terrace students get their food, these healthy options have been set up to fail. The incredible amount of uncompetitive pricing going on at MTHS has made bringing a meal from home the only option that is both healthy and affordable.

Terrace students have many choices for their lunchtime dining – The Hawk Shop, Hawk Café, numerous vending machines and plain old school hot-lunch give students a variety of foods. However, students who buy at school have to pick between two types of food: nutritional or affordable. The food choice students have rarely includes both of the categories. The extremely and expensive healthy options get beat because they can’t compete with the cheaper junk foods offered.

Kyra Dahlman | Hawkeye

The Hawk Café has more healthy options this year. There are several hearty nutritious salads offered, such as Chicken Caesar and Asian Chicken.

However, priced at $3.25 a salad without any drink, choosing the nutritional option is one that many people of the student body just can’t afford. Instead, they turn to cheaper items such as a pretzel with cheese, or a cup of noodles, snacks which have little nutritional value at all. These unfair prices send a message to the students from MTHS – the importance of healthy eating is insignificant. However, the need for healthier eating has never been so great.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 12.5 million children between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese. This epidemic has tripled since 1980, according to the CDC. Championed by First Lady Michelle Obama, the childhood obesity campaign is one that has been given a great deal of attention recently. With childhood obesity such a serious and widespread problem in America, one would think the district would make a greater effort to make eating healthier, easier. However, this is clearly not the case. The problem is not simply making healthy eating available. These options need to be priced fairly so that students able to afford to eat healthy.

Times are tough for MTHS students and families. Many don’t have enough money to spend on expensive options. What is truly sad is that paying for healthy eating is seen as “splurging.” These expensive items are always the healthy alternatives to the candy, soda, chips and cookies that help fatten America.

The arrival of these new virtual snack shacks also brought more healthy options. Similarly, these products were priced so much higher than the other junk that they, too, have been set up for failure. How are they able to compete with a $1.50 Pepsi or Dr. Pepper? The answer is they can’t.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, about 98 percent of high schools have vending machines. The standard school lunch is actually one of the best ways to get healthy food at school. They offer a salad buffet, and the fruit and vegetable bar. Even though many students claim to resent that rule that you must take from the fruit and veggie bar, these rules are helping, like it or not, students. The main problem with school lunch is the variety is low, and students may be turned away by the same-old same-old. However, they are making a larger contribution to healthy eating than the other school eateries. The availability of healthy foods, however, has not been truly solved.

Take the student run Hawk Shop for example. Sure, they serve up some delicious grub. Nevertheless, if one wanted to eat a healthy meal at the Hawk Shop, they would surely have a harder time doing so. The “entrees” that the Hawk Shop serves are low in nutritional value and high in carbohydrates, calories and fat. The advancements in healthy eating have been very beneficial. Every new salad and fruit added to the menu is a small victory for a better future. If politicians and administrators really want to get kids to eat healthy, they cannot simply put greens on the menu. They must make sure these healthy options are priced fairly and competitively so that students can make a true and fair choice for their lunch.