USDA guidelines leave students hungry, frustrated

Callie Struby and Hannah Malzahn, Reporter

The new USDA snack and cafeteria guidelines have the students talking. Reporters Callie Struby and Hannah Malzahn share their opinions on the new rules.


Callie Struby’s Take

Every new school year seems to start with some kind of controversy. Sometimes it’s changes in dress code or graduation policies. This year the big controversy surrounds the USDA’s new guidelines for school lunches.

School lunches are regulated primarily by the National School Lunch Program, run by the USDA, which reimburse public schools if they meet the new guidelines. The biggest change is the calorie cap placed on meals. For high school students meals are supposed to be within 750-850 calories in order for the school to receive the reimbursement.

However one of the big complaints from students is about the changes in food in the vending machine. The vending machine now features fewer candy bars and hot Cheetos and more granola bars and reduced fat chips. To me these don’t seem all that bad. I will settle for fruit snacks or reduced fat Cheetos puffs. If I want the full fat Cheetos or something other than what’s in the vending machine I will bring it with me.

What I do have a problem with is the calorie cap. The limit of 750-850 calories while it may seem like a lot, in reality leaves some students, including myself, hungry after lunch. The problem is that the limit applies to everyone and there is no efficient way of making the calorie limit student specific. It’s a classic case of the government trying to encompass everyone but leaving some people unsatisfied.

My biggest problem however doesn’t even have to do with the bill itself but rather how people are reacting to the law. Every time someone mentions the law all I hear is the blame being placed on Michelle Obama. While Obama did start the push for the law and continue to support it, the people responsible for it becoming law are the state representatives and senators who passed it.

It seems to me that if people want to blame someone they should blame the people who actually made the bill law, and if they want to complain to or about someone they should complain to/about their representatives and senators. The other thing that bothers me is that everyone has the power to email their representative or senator and express their opinions on the bill, and yet most of the people that are complaining about it being law now made no attempt to express their thoughts.

Obviously I am more focused on and upset about the political side of things than the actual contents of the law. I don’t agree with every part of this law but I feel that I can live with it. What I can’t live with is people blindly blaming the wrong people and ignoring the way the political system actually works.


Hannah Malzahn’s Take

The new lunch guidelines for Harding Charter Prep and the state of Oklahoma schools have affected almost everyone.

Students are only allowed to eat a 350 calorie lunch. This has made the portion size of the lunch drop significantly. Instead of actually focusing on the nutritional value in the food, the cafeteria is still giving out the same unhealthy meals that they were last year except the sizes are smaller.

This is extremely frustrating because this means that kids are still hungry and are not getting the nutrients that they need. Even though there is less food this is not helping solve the health problem that the legislature is trying to solve.

If a student has more than 350 calories for a lunch that is loaded with healthy nutrients, then it is ok because they are fueling their bodies for the rest of the day.

Instead of cutting down the portion sizes and limiting the calories on the school lunches, why can’t the cafeteria focus on the nutritional value in the food? Yes, they are also cutting down the limits on fat, sodium and sugars; however they are not focusing on more protein or the healthy fats and carbs provided by organic vegetables.

Also, why should the government decide what a student eats? Student athletes need more food to fuel their bodies because they are burning those calories in practices and games. Also calorie intake is different for all people based on their body and how much energy they exert.

I think that students should be allowed to eat as much as they want because for some, it is the only real meal that they get all day.