Too many calories?

Published 1:43 pm Friday, October 16, 2015

The debate over school lunches has been going on for quite some time now. It continues to be a subject that makes its way into many conversations, and is almost always featured in electoral debates. Nobody can agree on what needs to be made, how much needs to be served, what food should be considered for each food group, etc.

Generally, if the lunches aren’t healthy enough the parents aren’t happy, and if they are too healthy, the kids end up throwing half of it away because they don’t like it.

Many parents complain about the amount of calories, fats and sugars in one lunch.

Ask any dietitian and they will tell you the healthiest meals are the smaller ones and a person should eat from four to six a day. Well, that is not a feasible diet for a school-aged child to follow.

Schools serving healthy lunches and the kids enjoying them are awesome things to think about, but in all reality, it probably wouldn’t work.

Schools are allowed to start serving lunch at 10 a.m. For those students and classes who have an earlier lunch time and don’t have a snack time, they have to wait an extremely long time before they are able to get home and have a snack. If the lunches were healthier, they might not be able to make it to the end of the day.

Those students who have an early lunch period aren’t the only ones who have to worry about being hungrier sooner. For some, school lunch and breakfast are the only real meals that the children are eating. They need a meal with a lot of calories — which implies it will be on the unhealthier side – so they are able to stay full longer. Once again, if the meals are too healthy, then they will be even hungrier at an earlier time.

Obviously there is much more to the controversy over healthy school lunches. I researched the subject a lot during my senior year of school. Unfortunately, due to the finances of many families in the area, extremely healthy school lunches probably wouldn’t work right now regardless of how much of a great idea it sounds like.

The thought of this column came to my head after hearing about how Southampton public schools are teaming up with a food bank to help at-risk malnourished children.

As many of you read in Wednesday’s paper, the schools will be filling backpacks with nutritious, non-perishable foods twice a month on either Friday afternoons or over school holidays for those students who are at-risk. The program that Southampton schools are incorporating into their year for these students is something that other schools in the area should consider as well. If all the schools had this program, and were able to find enough companies to donate extra food, the backpacks could then possibly be something that happens more than once a month.

Another reasonable option, especially if food donations were made, would be that schools could start incorporating a snack time for students in grades that generally don’t get one so they are able to eat those smaller meals more often. Even if just enough snacks were donated for those students who are at-risk, the other students could bring something from home to help satisfy their hunger during the school day.

REBECCA CHAPPELL is a staff writer at The Tidewater News. She can be contacted at 562-3187 or