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Dear Editor:

So, I have a bone to pick with so-called “school nutritional standards.”

We all know that kids in schools are supposed to be eating healthier, as should we all. However, I seriously doubt that feeding said children processed, frozen and/or canned food is going to help them achieve this. By no means am I blaming the cafeteria staff. They do the best they can with what they are given, but honestly, they don’t have much to work with. After all, you can’t milk a turnip (although I’m sure that would be a much better alternative to what we’re being given now). Yeah, there’s “real milk,” but there’s also milk with high-fructose corn syrup and artificial flavoring and coloring. And can you guess which one is picked more often? (Hint: It’s not the real milk.)

Okay, yes, a whole wheat bun is great, but when a piece of “meat” has been defrosted and shoved between it, how good is it for you then? This “meat” is made of who-knows-what, and do we really want the future of America to be eating this? The same thing goes for whole wheat rolls and their “butter” – or should I say “whipped spread?” This “whipped spread” is mostly vegetable oil, and contains no dairy product. It is also one molecule away from being plastic. I’m sure that this is not what we’d like to be eating. (Plastic on bread … Yum!)

Canned veggies and pre-made sauces? What about fresh ingredients? Some say it’s more expensive, but when you compare it to what they currently offer (which is filled with preservatives and sodium), is it really that much? Besides, when you look at the effects of fresh (or at least non-processed) food, it’s definitely worth it. Eating healthier equals being healthier, which equals reduced healthcare cost. You have to think long-term and big-picture. Other schools are doing this (making fresh and healthy food that tastes good) nationwide, and when you consider that West Virginia is one of the leading states in the nation with health care deficits, many that are related to nutrition – shouldn’t we take this more seriously?

We’ve all seen the MyPlate things (the plate-charts that have replaced the Food Pyramid), but you still have to consider the quality of those items. This includes not only how it is presented, but how it is grown. Hormones, GMOs – even rat poison. They’re all being linked to our food, and the idea that we’re putting this stuff in our bodies, that the school system is giving us this to eat as our “healthy and well-balanced lunch” is just sad. It’s even worse when you consider that for some kids, this is their healthy meal before they go home to cheese doodles and spaghetti-O’s because that’s all their moms and dads could afford.

Shaylen Lafferty

7th grader in Greenbrier County