America is obsessed with school lunches. Are kids getting too many calories? Too few? Should meals be differentiated based on physical activity? Have you seen what they serve to elementary school students?
The push towards healthy lunches has been slowly gaining international attention as parents, students, and schools are becoming more health-conscious. In an age of prevalent obesity, declining physical education classes, and unhealthy habits, lunch has become a battleground. This is exemplified by the commotion surrounding Martha Payne’s blog, Never Seconds; and Michelle Obama’s Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.
The solution seems simple for us at Chicago Hope Academy. Health is a central focus here, as we strive to ensure our students are equipped mentally, spiritually, and physically. Our cafeteria manager, Irma, is trained in nutrition. She ensures that all our meals are affordable and nutritionally balanced. Today Irma served steak and baked potatoes with a side salad. Fruit is always available, as are juices and bottled water. We do not sell soda, or desserts. It may require more work to make meals from scratch, but Irma considers that worth it if students leave lunch feeling full, and are equipped for the rest of the day’s activities.
Our lunch program is not an isolated health initiative. The majority of students at Hope participate in sports and students have at least two hours of physical education per week. P.E. is intense and varied: we often break out Zumba for the girls, and the boys often follow the football training regimen. Last week boys’ gym played rugby in the park in preparation for the start of the season.
Every member of this community is expected to approach life with discipline and determination, especially when it comes to health.