Carrie Tananbaum, 14, tried lunch in her New Jersey school cafeteria just once. Her square of pizza was greasy, bland, and soggy. Her verdict? “Disgusting.”
Carrie is not alone. While some lucky students get smoothie bars, pasta stations, and baked goods made from scratch, for most teenagers, school lunch is a necessary evil. Want some fresh vegetables? Good luck if you’re Abigail Pickard, 15, who says that at her Indiana school, “the only thing available is bad lettuce.” Want some fresh anything? Dream on if you’re Stephen Thrasher, 13, who says at his North Carolina school the food is either microwaved or reheated. “The last time I tried the lunch, I got sick and had to leave school,” he says.
If any of this sounds familiar, you probably wonder if school lunch is actually designed to make you hate food, but the truth is, the people in charge of your school lunch may be as frustrated as you are. After all, a lot is at stake. Research shows that eating a nutritious meal not only improves your physical health, it also boosts your concentration and academic performance. But offering food that is healthy and that you’ll actually want to eat is incredibly challenging.
Let’s look at why: