While some schools around town go to great lengths to provide healthy options for students, most cafeterias reside outside the bounds of culinary decency: processed meats, stale breads, cups of colorless fruit. It's not that anyone wants our fine city's future to dine on lard and green turkey dogs; it's that healthy food is expensive. And let's be honest: Some students just aren't worth it.
Right? Isn't that the message we're sending to Generation2K? According to the HISD Connect Web site, "almost 80 percent of HISD students come from economically disadvantaged households, in which regular, nutritious meals are sometimes not available." These students receive free or reduced-price lunches, so now their daily intake could include nutritional powerhouses like this:
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These meals tell students that we're willing to sustain their lives, but we're not willing to make them productive. We scream, stomp, and moan that our kids don't pay attention, that they're hyperactive, that they fall asleep in class -- yet this food is malaise incarnate, sending the message that healthy eating habits are unimportant and that we don't care whether or not they have enough energy to learn. It's no wonder Houston ranks 83rd on the Forbes list of the 100 most educated cities in America.
There's no one out there who's opposed to serving healthier, more substantial lunches in schools. But where do we get the money? And when we find a stockpile of extra education money lying around, would we put it towards food? It seems unlikely. Until we do, we'll continue to give our students what we always have: nachos, hot dogs, and Type 2 Diabetes.