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Fast Food in School Cafeterias Essay

Buckley, Cara. “A Proposal to Separate Fast Food and Schools.” New York Times [New York] 20 04 2009, n. pag. Web 26 April. 2012. .

The author explores research done that suggests that the closer a fast food restaurant is to a school, the higher is the obesity rate of the children there. Eric N. Gioia is a city councilman from Queens and he wants to ban any fast food restaurants from opening within a tenth of a mile from any schools. According to the report “The Effect of Fast Food Restaurants on Obesity” done by researchers from The University of California, Berkeley, and Columbia, when fast food restaurants open a quarter mile or more away from schools there is no change in the obesity rate, but when they are open within a tenth of a mile from schools obesity rates rise. The study also found that the daily caloric intake could increase 30 to 100 calories a day depending on the proximity of fast food chains to schools. The study even showed that pregnant women are more likely to gain a lot of weight of they live within a mile of fast food chains.

This article from the New York Times explores the side of a ban on fast food restaurants near schools. Buckley did an in depth analysis on the ban of fast food near schools and what the effects of having fast food chains near schools has on the children. She used many reliable sources to support her research. The only problem that I see with this article is that it does not explore the other side of the argument enough. Overall I gained a lot of useful information from this article, and learned a lot of useful facts.

Harris, Karen. “Fast Food in California’s High Schools: Popular, Profitable, Contributing to Teen Obesity?.” California Center for Health Improvement . n. page. Web. 26 April. 2012.

This article talks about fast food in California High Schools and the reasons they are sold more than the healthy options. There are many schools that sell taco bell in school. The student’s say that these food options taste better. Also, the schools sell them ‘A la Carte’ so they can profit and use the money for school activities and such. This article also discusses how the school environment can take away from anything that parents try to teach their kids about healthy eating. Many school districts allow private corporations to advertise in their schools, promoting eating unhealthy food.

This article gave me a good idea of what fast food actually in schools is like. It is obvious that kids are going to go for the more unhealthy option of the foods they have to choose from, because it tastes better, they can get it faster, and it is usually cheaper. This article was a good source of information but it even says in the beginning that the source of their data is a little bit unreliable because it is just the schools mailing in their information about what food they serve and not all schools reported their information. Over all this is a good source for basic information about fast food in schools, but not all of the data is reliable.

Do fast-food chains cluster around schools? MSN.com. 26 April 2012

This article addresses the problem of having fast food restaurants located near schools, and says that the corporations do this strategically. This makes it very hard to eat healthy for kids when they are being tempted with cheap, quick food. This article says that nearly 80 percent of Chicago schools studied had at least one fast food restaurant within a half mile. It also discusses how when a child eats fast food they consume more calories fat and sugars than they would eat fruits and vegetables. Burger King wouldn’t answer any questions about the placement of their stores, and McDonalds denies that schools have anything to do with where they place their stores.

This article is a lot like the first one that I read, but had more research into the amount of fast food restaurants in proximity to schools. I like that they did the research in a city like Chicago, and it says that these findings are similar in other cities across the nation. This article could help me in my research because it shows that it is proven that fast food chains cluster around schools.

Eisler, Peter, Blake Morrison, and Anthony DeBarros. “Fast-food standards for meat top those for school lunches .” USA Today. 9 12 2009: n. page. Web. 3 May. 2012. .

In this article, the authors explore the fact that the meat we eat at schools does not go through the same standards that the meat served at fast food restaurants. The government is supplying schools with millions of pounds of beef and chicken that aren’t good enough for many fast food chains to serve. The authors say that the standards that Jack in the Box uses for its food is ten times more stringent than what the USDA sets for the meat served in schools. When it comes to chicken, schools are being supplied with thousands of tons of meat from old chickens that fast food restaurants don’t use. The standards are not the same, and that is very alarming.

I really like this article because it is different from the other ones that I have read. It shows the downfalls of cafeteria food, instead of the bad things about fast food. It really opened my eyes that we never really know where our food comes from, and sometimes even when we think we are eating healthy we are consuming old, gross meat. This is extremely useful to my research because it shows the downfalls of the USDA and proves that school foods are not always better than fast food.

Denver, Kusa. “‘Pink slime’ eliminated from fast food, but not school lunches .” USA Today. 09 03 2012: n. page. Web. 3 May. 2012. .

This article talks about Pink Slime and how it is still being served in schools, but fast food restaurants have decided not to use that meat anymore. The U.S. Department of Agriculture told an online newspaper that it is buying 7 million more pounds of the Pink Slime to serve in school lunches across the country. But at the same time the USDA says that, “All USDA ground beef purchases for the National School Lunch Program must meet the highest standards for food safety.” This slime is made of cow intestines and other by-products that we really don’t want to eat. This meat is more prone to E. Coli and salmonella.

I definitely think this article is useful to me because it is yet another example of the food we are being served in schools. It is not held to the same standards that fast food chains hold their food to. I think the research used reliable sourced such as the USDA and the U.S. department of agriculture.

Childhood obesity and obesity in general are some of the biggest problems facing the United States. We as a country are trying to educate everyone on how to eat properly and live a healthy life. We blame fast food chains for the obesity in our country, when in reality they are not the main problem. It is a culture change that is hard to wrap our heads around, and one that people don’t know how to deal with. The economy is bad, therefore we go for the cheaper food, and fast food chains are everywhere, and convenient. The food in schools should be held to a much higher standard than it is, and advertisers are targeting kids in schools and tempting them to eat unhealthy foods. There are many problems between schools and fast food.

The proximity of a school to fast food restaurants has shown to have an impact on the weight of the children in the surrounding schools. This makes perfect sense to me because it makes it more convenient. Burger Kings always have signs about deals on burgers or fries. They are directly advertising to the young kids in those surrounding schools. The advertisers know that kids are tight on cash, and want to get their food quick. Some researchers say that there is no correlation between obesity and having fast food restaurants near schools, but I think there definitely is.

If there is no McDonald’s right across the street from a school, those kids won’t have a choice of eating it and might make a better choice. I know that people should have the will power to say no and try and eat something healthier, but I believe that the government should be doing something to try and make it easier for Americans to live a healthy, after all shouldn’t the health of their country be important to them? I think that laws should be passed against having fast food chains within a certain distance of schools, because that is just escalating the problem of obesity in America.

Another link to schools and obesity is the advertising and availability of fast food in a school cafeteria. It is hard for a 12 year old to choose grilled chicken and broccoli over a cheeseburger when given a choice. Ads that show happy kids eating McDonalds are directly targeted at young kids, showing them that they will be happy if they eat fast food. Childhood obesity is on the rise and advertising in schools is a huge reason. It is ridiculous that schools allow this and even that the government doesn’t prevent it. Kids are victims in this situation because they have no say about what kinds of advertisements they are exposed to. You would think that the adults in this country would see this problem and try to fix it, but instead we just serve McDonald’s and Taco bell in the cafeteria instead of having delicious healthy options. It is so counter productive to teach kids about the food pyramid and tell them to be active and eat their fruits and veggies and then offer them fries and a hot dog. That is not fair, its almost like we are setting the children up for failure and obesity, exactly what we say we are trying to prevent.

The most shocking thing that I found throughout my research was the lack of quality in the meat that is being served in school cafeterias. According to a few of the articles that I read fast food chains would not serve the quality of meat that the government is giving to schools. The USDA is supposed to be protecting us as consumers when in reality they are giving schools beef with pink slime and old chicken meat that fast food chains wouldn’t even serve. The meat that our children are eating is more likely to have E. Coli or salmonella. All the blame is being put on fast food chains for the unhealthy country we are becoming when in reality many school lunches are just as bad or worse for us than fast food.

With all of this being said, fast food is having a huge impact on modern day schooling and our society in general. Schools are changing because now we have to make it part of the curriculum to teach children about healthy eating and living, when in previous time periods that was the parent’s job. It has now become the school’s job because even the generation of parent’s isn’t living a healthy life. This can take away from teaching more important things to the curriculum such as math science and reading. Also, the schools can now be blamed for the rise in obesity because they are not always serving healthy foods, and they are allowing fast food chains into their cafeterias.

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