From Hollywood college scenes to real-life memories of the school, the cafeteria is typical culture for all Americans. Every day over 30 million kids eat school lunch. But the question is who decides which food is going to serve in school, and who decides the menu?
Every year over 5 billion lunch packets are distributed from food companies like Fritolay, Domino’s the school cafeteria to feed students around the USA.
Before the government-funded School food programs, small non-governmental feeding programs existed. With the help of Ngo and charity, in the early 1900, the school lunch program was held in cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.
In 1853 children aid society of New York started a lunch program for their vocational students, the first unofficial free school lunch program in the USA. In 1890 the school started to become a social institution in the USA, with basic head school authorities started providing health services. When doctors and nurses started working in those institutions they found most of the kids doesn’t have healthy food, they found cases of malnourishment among the kids.
Until 1930 School lunch program was a completely non-governmental initiative. But due to the increase in the number of kids, day by day the organizations started asking the government to take the initiative further. In 1935 government started to allocate funding for school lunch programs. In 1941 approx 6.2 million kids were eating government-provided food. In 1946 government introduced the National school lunch act. By the end of its first year, the National School Lunch Program had helped 7.1 million children.
In 1966 government passed Child Nutrition Act to spread the program. In 1970 many advocates observed that privatization was the only way to keep School Lunch Program going. As a result rather than a nutritious meal kids started eating fast food served by private food companies. Slowly School Lunch Program started to be a profitable business model for those private food serving companies.
School Lunch: A Profitable Business
In 1969 more than 15% of kids in the USA got lunch at lower prices or for free. The number of students eating school lunch for free or at a lower price rises to 73% in 2017. More students mean millions of School Lunch Meal trays needed every day and that turned out to be a huge business opportunity.
Brands like Domino’s Make Profit from School Lunch In US
Slowly but steadily School Lunch Program started to change into reheated, junky fast food. French fries, frozen potato wedges, and tomato ketchup are termed a vegetable according to USDA. Companies like Tyson started to develop a strong catalog of frozen food. In 2014 USDA came up with Smart Snack Guidelines to make School Lunch healthier. Big snack companies like Fritolay started to produce snacks according to USDA guidelines to get approval to sell their products as School snacks in the school cafeterias.
In the USA we observe a huge difference between School Lunches prices. Anybody can distinguish the products selling in schools versus the ones selling in stores. They keep the School version snacks healthier compared to the store version. Companies like Domino’s started selling Pizza as School Lunch. Companies like Domino’s, Tyson, and several other food companies are SNA industry members, which helps them to serve their snacks to every school cafeteria in the USA.
Due to high obesity rates in the USA the government tried to change food items from tasty snacks to fruits, and vegetables, but it increases the wastage of food by up to 40%. Studies have shown that if kids are fed healthy food they not only perform better in their studies, but they also perform better in sports and other extracurricular activities. Million of kids relying on free or low-cost lunch every day is a big problem to solve. Government must take strict action against lobby, politics, and money in the School Lunch Program.