National School Lunch Program Requires Unpopular Changes in Cafeteria

West Cafe will implement changes next school year

Sydney Czyzon, Views Editor

This upcoming fall, major changes are going to be made in what is available for students to consume during the school day. From bosco sticks to cookies, it’s time to say goodbye to some of the most popular items in the cafeteria.

The National School Lunch Program, which Joliet West is a part of, is outlawing countless food items that occupy the lunch room and vending machines on campus. The regulations will include students being offered fruits and vegetables every weekday, increasing whole grain-rich foods, offering fat-free and low-fat milk only, limiting calories to ensure proper portion size, and reducing amounts of saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium. The new implementation will cost approximately $3.2 billion over the next five years and is just the beginning of the battle on child obesity.

The program’s new regulations are being praised by parents nationwide as they try to teach their children healthy eating habits. First Lady Michelle Obama stated, “Parents should be in control of their kids’ health. When parents are working hard to teach their kids healthy habits at home, their work shouldn’t be undone by unhealthy messages at school.” However, there is the worry that teens will react negatively to the sudden change in diet.

Over half of the students at JWHS are low-income students, according to the official Illinois School Report Card. Many of these students receive free or reduced lunch prices on their meals and depend on the café food each day. Dr. Teresa Gibson, principal of Joliet West High School, is worried that these students will defy the healthier options. “The concern for me is that kids won’t eat and that they’ll be hungry,” she admitted.

Some snacks that will not be permitted include Cheez-its, Goldfish, Combos, Ritz Bitz Sandwiches, Animal Crackers, Cheetos, Pop Tarts, Rice Krispies, Welch’s Fruit Snacks, Oreos, and a wide variety of candy items. Also, there will be a halt in the sale of candy for any type of school fundraiser.

A few beverages that will be exempt from purchase compromise of Sobe LifeWater, Gatorade, Powerade, and any type of soda. Meal items such as fried chicken, cheeseburgers, and chocolate milk will be under renovation as well. The only flexibility pertaining to these rules is that ‘unhealthy foods’ are permitted for sale after 3:45 PM, 30 minutes following the conclusion of the school day.

The changes will not financially affect the school, as the National School Lunch Program is responsible for all costs and profit in the lunchroom. Regarding her thoughts on the subject, Dr. Gibson released, “I’m obviously pro-healthier choices,” going on to say that the program will, “[…] ensure that all students have healthy options while at school.” On top of the alterations, the price for lunches in the cafeteria will be raised by 10 cents during the 2014-2015 school year.

Although the student body may be split on the subject, healthier foods will inevitably replace unhealthier choices. A newsletter will be sent out to parents and students over the summer educating them further on the matter. Next school year will surely be a testament as to whether or not the changes are truly successful or simply unappealing.