School lunches should provide nourishment and education

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I’m writing in response to the article “Healthy Lunches Prompt Food Fight” (May 24). I was disappointed to read that some school districts are looking to legally waive the requirements for school lunches that the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act established. Without doubt, certain schools are struggling financially to meet the requirements for more nutritious meals. More local funding must be directed toward lunch programs where federal subsidies aren’t enough.

But, as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack insists, approving a waiver would be a step in the wrong direction, one which would ultimately lead to higher costs — to our health and to our wallets — down the line. Shouldn’t we invest as much in students’ health as we do in their education? Shouldn’t meals served at school be a part of their education, providing ideas and models for healthy approaches to eating?

What disappointed me most were the views held by some of those with leadership roles in local food service. Curtistine Walker, food service director for the Pittsburgh Public Schools, believes that with the upcoming implementation of stricter guidelines next year, “Food isn’t going to be palatable.” This kind of outlook from someone at the top will prevent others working in food service from embracing meals prepared with fresh, nutritious ingredients in creative ways. And while kids’ food habits and preferences are built from a young age, what a student expects at lunchtime may not always be the best choice.

I hope schools can work internally and with outside organizations toward approaching school lunches not as a burden but as an opportunity to teach and nourish our students.

Squirrel Hill

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