To buy or not to buy: Healthy lunch options at Portage Northern


Ben Friedman (9) grabs a healthy Michelle Obama supported lunch.

Anna Heystek, Special to the NL

“It was the highlight of everybody’s Wednesday,” said Brooklyn Hudson (10).  Due to Michelle Obama’s new lunch program, health standards in school lunches are changing everything, including the school popcorn. Children are not eating and schools are wasting food as well as losing money ever since the program was put into effect. The choice to completely change the school lunches was a wrong one.

The Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act began the road to the enforcement of healthy school lunches. Schools require students that buy lunch to select at least a ½ cup of fruit or vegetable for their meal because of the act. However, the lunches do not help kids if no one is eating the healthy options anyways. “I see kids leaving their fruit or vegetable by the silverware, or they throw it away on their way back to their seats,” said Sara Wieber (10). Studies have shown that schools are wasting approximately $4 million dollars worth of food because kids will not eat the healthy options.

Many students at Portage Northern are simply not buying the school lunch. “Tons of kids have started packing their lunch, and if they do buy lunch, the only thing they buy is pizza,” said Keelyn Knop (10). Besides the food wasted ratio, studies by Breitbart News Network have also shown that around 1 million kids across the country have stopped eating lunch altogether. This is a problem for schools because students are becoming less productive and more cranky in class when they stop eating lunch.“If our school is forcing bad options to people that do not want to eat it, food will go to waste and people may even develop eating disorders,” said Abby Seeber (10).

Not only do the new health regulations affect the students, but the school district as well. “We thought we were not going to be able to do the popcorn sales,” said Mrs. Danielson, who runs the popcorn table.  Lower popcorn sales as well as fewer students buying school lunches will take a big toll on Portage Northern’s money available. Over 600 school districts in the United States have already dropped out of the lunch program despite the loss of federal funding. “We should drop it because more kids will buy a lot more lunch, so they will earn the money back in no time,” said Knop.

If our school is forcing bad options to people that do not want to eat it, food will go to waste and people may even develop eating disorders

— Abby Seeber (10)

Although I have mixed feelings about dropping the lunch program altogether, we should definitely make some changes. “Even if our options are awful, maybe we should not be so picky,” said Seeber.  I agree with this statement, but I think we have a right to be picky when the quality and number of healthy options is so insufficient. However, I think the biggest change should involve the popcorn. “We want to please everybody but at least we can still do the [popcorn sale],” said Mrs. Danielson. While I consider this a good argument, at the same time I cannot help but think about the smaller size of the popcorn bags at the same prices as last year’s bigger bags. “The new bags being ⅓ of what we used to have and still being 50 cents is a rip-off,” said Knop.

Overall, the new school lunch regulations have a big impact, not only on our students but on our district’s funds as well. We as students and the future leaders in this world should take a stand on what we want in our school. As we may not be able to fight directly against the lunch regulations, let us have our voices be heard and protest the price of the mediocre bag of popcorn Portage Northern so dearly treasures. “We need to give better options to buy what people actually want,” said Seeber.

The people I interviewed discussed their favorite way to eat popcorn:

Brooklyn Hudson (10)- “Probably with lots of butter and cheese.”

Sara Wieber (10)- “Definitely caramel corn.”

Keelyn Knop (10)- “I like a little butter and that is it!”

Abby Seeber (10)- “Plain or kettle corn.”