Should Schools Go Back to Home-Cooked Meals?

Jaslee Kerner

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School lunches around the country have been changing drastically. For us as a school, we have gone from home-cooked chicken noodle soup and cinnamon rolls to packaged meat calzones. Although the cost and effort to make home-cooked meals is greater than that to make packaged meals, can you really put a price on healthier and happier students? Since moving from the old high school to the new high school in 2008, our school meals have changed, and this change has not been for the better.

Home-cooked meals in schools are becoming nonexistent throughout the United States. Schools no longer have the time, staff, kitchen space, money, or equipment to prepare home-cooked meals for their students. Making home-cooked meals requires the schools to have larger kitchen areas along with a greater number of kitchen staff members. Since our school moved buildings in 2008, we have less space and cooks. This makes preparing home-cooked meals more difficult, especially in a small kitchen which our school has. Most schools do not have the space that is needed to concoct these meals, and without the space, the cooks cannot do all the steps needed to make meals. Money is another problem schools face when trying to make home-cooked meals. Purchasing all the ingredients and supplies to make home-cooked meals can become pricey. Whereas buying pre-packed meals can be more cost efficient. Larger schools with more students also do not have the time to prepare and cook for all their students.

Although making home-cooked meals could be a hassle for schools that should not stop them from making their students happier and healthier. Home-cooked meals contain less sugar and have been proven to increase energy levels, academic performance, and mental health. As students, we are expected to come to school and preform our best in class, and as student athletes, we are also expected to participate and perform well in practices and games. With home-cooked meals, which are associated with higher energy levels, students and athletes are more likely to perform how teachers and coaches want them to.

Making home-cooked meals can also be beneficial for the environment. Home-cooked meals would cut down on packaging compared to processed foods that comes in cardboard boxes and plastic that eventually piles up in landfills.

Researchers have proven that eating five or more home-cooked meals a week leads to a longer life. Because you are in control of how your food is handled, you are more likely to avoid sicknesses that you can obtain from foods that are handled improperly. Eating home-cooked meals in general helps you maintain nutritional balances in your life. These balances are not as well maintained when you eat processed and pre-made foods.

Although processed foods are simpler for schools to serve at lunch time, home-cooked meals are healthier for everyone. They may take more time and effort to prepare, but that should not stop schools from keeping their students from the nutrition they need. Students are happier overall when a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup is placed on their plates compared to when a pre-cooked meat calzone is. Schools around the United States should highly consider going back to fresh, home cooked meals.

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