Ah yes, I remember like it was yesterday. I'd step into the school cafeteria as hungry as an emaciated ox and detect this smell of "something" in the air. Interestingly, the smell was always the same, regardless of the food being prepared. Unless it was pizza, which had a definable aroma.
Since I was always ravenous before this most-anticipated meal of the day, I never thought twice about shoveling food in my mouth unconscionably. My only concern was to satisfy the hunger pain in my gut and boost my depleted energy levels. At this juncture in my life, I was very active and had a naturally high metabolism, so calories were not an issue or even a fragment of a thought for that matter. I burned through them faster than Pope John Paul burns through candles. Not to mention, when you're a young high school punk at the ripe old age of 15 or 16, you could care less about the calories in your Chinese chew. Your brain is more fixated on who you were going to ask to homecoming.
The series of events that ensued after lunch period was a common trend that occurred day after day after day. Like clockwork, I'd develop a rumblin in my tummy and it felt as if I was getting repeatedly punched in the stomach by someone who had a bowling ball for a hand, which resulted in severe to violent stomach cramps. It was not cool or fun to be doubled over at my desk for the next two periods of the day, but that was the nature of the beast. This cycle repeated itself from the time I was in grade one until I was a senior. Most kids who graduate are excited and thrilled about not having to deal with teachers, students, drama or piles of senseless, brainless homework, but it was altogether different for me. I was thrilled I would never have to be subjected to the smell, taste or sight of that toxic waste called the school lunch anymore. I could deal with the rest of the stuff.
During these days, I was on the cusp of the big turning point in the school lunch system. If you think back, you'll know what I'm talking about. The option for breakfast had just come out when I was in about grade 11 if memory serves me correct. I guess the school system figured, the kids aren't sick or fat enough, so let's offer another meal just to be on the safe side. It was endless... Not that I'm trying to sound like an elitist, but I never once indulged in the sugar-sweetened cereal, doughnuts, pastries, and disgusting, powdered instant eggs that were offered up for sacrifice. Yuck! How on earth are students supposed to function mentally and physically, with the likes of this fare circulating through their bloodstreams?
Fast forward to today and things have taken a turn for the worse, which I didn't even think was possible. You now have a combination of horrible food, vending machines, breakfast options, and a childhood obesity epidemic that has arguably caused the entire world to shift on its axis. Couple this with the fact that PE class is nearly extinct from coast to coast, and you are left with a recipe for disaster.
In clinical terms, a series of medical disorders combined that increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes is called metabolic syndrome. These disorders include high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL (good cholesterol) and high blood glucose. Shockingly, adolescents are getting victimized with "Syndrome X" as it's commonly called, at a ferocious pace. This was unheard of 20-plus years ago. Do you think just maybe since kids spend over nine months a year of their lives in school, it could have something to do with it?
All of the above data I've collected over the course of time has led me to a few options to reverse the insanity. I wouldn't go as far as calling these concrete solutions, but I definitely think they can go a long way in reversing the nonsense that has become commonplace in the lunch line. How about the school lunch, breakfast, vending machines AND specialty snack bars are taken away completely?! Yeah, you heard me correct. The money saved on not buying the toxic waste can go directly toward fitness equipment for PE classes, such as climbing ropes, jump ropes, battle ropes, kettlebells, climbing walls, pullup bars and medicine balls. And, instead of rushing the kids through a 30-minute lunch break, they get 45 minutes instead. The first 30 are dedicated to lunch and the last 15 are dedicated to physical activity outside the cafeteria. Every bit of physical activity helps fight obesity and diseases that spawn from it. Additionally, the first period of the day will not be social studies, or world cultures, or algebra or astronomy; it will be Health Ed! There will be no droning and no dull moments. The kids will learn how to exercise, eat right, prepare meals on their own and also learn WHY it is important to stay and be fit. This will not be instructed by regular teachers, but fitness professionals who have the proper background and are funny, witty, engaging, caring and most importantly, in shape themselves! If you're going to talk to the talk, you're going to walk the walk. I'm sure Jack LaLanne would have wanted the same thing if he were still alive. I know you're probably thinking, "OK, Rail. You've got good points, but how will my kids eat?" That's easy. If you love your child and do not want them to get sick and heavy, pack them a healthy lunch and the problem is solved.
For the most part, a school lunch tray is filled to the brim with toxic waste. In similar fashion to fast food, I bet you could leave a school lunch out on a table for a year and it won't change shape, color or consistency. Food of that magnitude is dangerous my friends, and it is not welcome in the body.