Let’s talk about one of the fastest growing problems in today’s America: childhood obesity.

I, and many others, feel that school lunches are an enormous contributing factor. For example, in Stephenville schools, our lunch choices are the following:

• Hamburger on bun

• Chicken on bun

• Beef cutlet on bun

• On bun!

• On bun!

• On bun!

• On bun!

They also have crispitos, popcorn chicken, nachos, chicken nuggets, burritos, mashed potatoes, cheese pizza, cheese sticks, corn dogs, chicken fajitas, fries, corn, chilidogs, tacos, pickles and finally, rolls. These choices still do not include the tater tots, hot dogs, chips, ice cream, cookies, beef jerky, and more, offered in the snack bar.

Do you see a pattern? Too many carbohydrates, too much fat, too many calories… just not healthy! Schools have to follow federal laws that mandate nutritional guidelines for school lunches. It states that schools should serve a nutritious meal to the student body. Right now, we are given a choice between “heart attack on bun” and “fried obesity.”

Sure, they serve milk and apples, but do you think a half pint of milk and an apple that more than half the students throw away without even looking at it will make a difference when all they are really eating is the calorific fat on a bun in the snack bar? I think not. What is the point in offering a “healthy” tray lunch when students are allowed to throw away their apple and milk for tater tots, chips, hot dogs and an energy drink? That’s right, an energy drink. And we wonder why America is becoming known as the “obese” nation. We have a higher rate of obesity than any other nation, and still, we wonder why. I may be just 11, but being in school and seeing the food choices made, I can tell you one of the top reasons why we are where we are…school lunches.

Taking toys out of happy meals and just plain banning happy meals will not make any difference in childhood obesity. Parents choose to take their children to Mc Donald’s. They are not required to, and it is certainly not the children’s choice whether or not they order a happy meal. They are, however, required to go to school, and if you go to school, you eat the lunch. It’s that simple. So unless schools perform a major change in their lunch selection, we will have to keep on wondering.

Anna Garrison is a 6th grader at Gilbert Intermediate and a member of the E-T's community columnists. She can be reached at annagarrison99@yahoo.com.