The National School Lunch Program's mission is to serve wholesome lunches to students; however, anyone who has had school lunch will certainly agree that wholesome as they may be, school lunches are far from tasty.
Whether it's burned gruel in the 1800s or over-processed food today, school meals have always been repellent. People often mistakenly blame the cooks, when it's really government officials who make serving children one meal a day thousands of times more difficult and disgusting.
On Dec. 13, 2010, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act into law. In summary, this law encourages schools to create more healthy options for kids, make water more available and buy fresh produce from local farmers. In return, the school will be reimbursed for the changes.
A problem has arisen, though; at the same time the legislation passed, government officials cut funding for schools, forcing school officials to buy the food from the cheapest sources available in order to feed their students. The biggest problem with the cheapest food is, of course, the quality.
Also, the food portions have shrunk in every way since the law was enacted.
"Some of us don't get that full with normal portions; we should be able to get as much as we want as long as we finish it. I'm not saying we shouldn't have healthy food but why not just have fruit and vegetables to be more available than some strange strawberry apple sauce," said Brian Toledo, a sophomore at Fremont High.
The truth is that due to budget costs, most kids do not get enough to fill them up. Now picture a football player who is on fee-waiver that is given an inedible lunch that can barely fill Twiggy. Not only does he have to get through school, but play in the big game as well.
Some, however, look on the bright side, such as Hailey Hansen, a sophomore at Fremont, who says, "The school lunches are way better than junior high lunches."
There are only four options for teens unwilling to eat school lunch: don't eat at all, go to a vending machine, go to a fast food restaurant, or bring food from home (which is the only healthy option, assuming you pick healthy foods at home).
The biggest problem with home food is the storage of said lunch. Not only can home foods grow bacteria when not properly refrigerated, they can attract ants, mice and other critters to students' lockers. On top of everything, bringing a home lunch is often times seen as lame, for some unknown reason.
"I don't really eat at the school, most of the time I catch a ride with my friends and go to a restaurant nearby," said Lindsey Lomax, a senior at Layton High.
Most teens go out for lunch; however, they only have a half-hour at most schools, which means that they don't have time for a sit-down restaurant unless they are sluffing class. So officials have unwittingly encouraged teens to eat more junk food because that's the fastest food to get.
For teens without a car (or friends with cars), the vending machine is the most preferable source of food. The Utah State Legislature has been making changes to what is sold in the vending machines as well, though, and have even been debating getting rid of them entirely.
When asked if the legislature should have the authority to remove vending machines from schools, Samantha Carlin, a freshman at Fremont High, said, "No, because a lot of people won't eat school lunch, so the only food that they get is from those machines, so people would refuse to eat at all, making it even more unhealthy than eating the food from the vending machines."
This is the response of many teens who depend on vending machines to get them through the day.
Kayla Gonzalez, a sophomore at Bonneville High, added. "I honestly don't think that taking them away would be the best option, however I can understand why they'd want to. It is a great distraction for hungry students that have some extra change and need food."
The unhealthiest possible option is for growing children to starve themselves. Now some may be thinking, "Students who won't eat what is given to them must not be hungry." The truth is, they are starving, however the food is so ... what's the word? ... oh yes, nasty, moist, greasy, uncooked, moldy, and, in short, inedible, that even people who don't believe in wasting food will have second thoughts.
By creating new policies and cutting funding, the government has made schools unable to fulfill their goal of serving nutritious food, which in turn makes kids go hungry, which is more unhealthy than eating the "unhealthy" food in the first place.
"Be gone, food of Satan!" With that statement, Bonneville sophomore Ray Kimber probably expresses teens' feelings toward school lunch the best.
And honestly, Utah teens deserve better than what they are being served.
Madison Ostberg is a junior at Bonneville High School. Email her at email@example.com.