Students think outside the lunchbox

Jenna DeNight, Staff Writer

“Skinny Bitch” didn’t make it on the best sellers list because of its clever book title. It got there because of the potentially life-changing content the novel struck the nation with. Authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin expose the horrors of the food industry and provide a wake-up call to many people throughout the country to start eating healthily.

People across the nation have begun to make healthy changes in their diets. Becoming vegetarian, vegan, or even just cutting out fast foods recently gained in popularity.  This has led to questions about how the food provided at public schools affects the health of students.

“I think it’s unhealthy that school only offers pizza and high sugar fruit drinks. There are no healthy snack options in the vending machines either,” junior Ryan Parrish said. “The public school system is contributing to obesity in America.”

Parrish is not the only student who feels this way. Many students and teachers share a similar opinion, and the matter even spread to groups outside of the school system.

Whole Foods teamed up with chef Ann Cooper to provide and promote healthy school lunches across the nation. With the large amount of donations that they have received thus far, the team’s current goal is to install 300 salad bars in schools around the United States.

Even if Palmetto is not one of these schools, students can still move in a similar direction and make changes to improve their diets.

Throughout the day, students frequently visit the vending machines, which are stocked with an assortment of unhealthful snacks. Pop Tarts, abundant in every machine, contain 400 calories. This year, a new vending machine was installed near the drama room.  During a time of tight school budgets, students question the necessity of installing another vending machine.

“They should have put a vending machine of healthy snacks instead,” senior Stephanie Maia said.

As tempting as it may be to eat pizza daily, many healthier alternatives exist. Experts say that it is important for a student’s lunch to include a substantial amount of fiber and whole grains, protein, a healthy fat, a vegetable, and a natural sugar, such as fruit. This nutritious lunch would provide every student with the energy needed to power an afternoon of learning.

Students can find healthful, nutritious options on Palmetto’s campus. Students who take a trip over to the cafeteria may find themselves surprised by all of the wholesome meals served daily.

The cafeteria staff plans many meals that offer a variety for frequent diners, but the meals remain nutritious. On Monday there could be cheese quesadillas with salsa along with a tomato and lettuce salad while on Thursday the choice might be a bowl of black beans and rice and a Caesar salad.

“I think the cafeteria food is pretty good,” freshman Cheyenne Dragonette said. “The spaghetti is what I always go for!”

The cafeteria is open every school day for breakfast and lunch, so students are encouraged to bring their friends and enjoy a healthful, delicious, and nutritious lunch.