The healthy, hunger-free kids act

The United States has a weight problem. Today, with 74.1% of the American population overweight, obesity rates continue to increase and 120,000 people die per year of preventable causes related to obesity.

The Patriot Press applauds efforts taken by the U.S. government and our school district to solve this problem; however, we want to make sure that officials are taking on this issue in the best way to make children healthier. Is this opt-in program complete with federal subsidies the best motivation to change the lives of Issaquah School District students?


The new requirements include caloric limits: less than 200 calories for snack items; less than 350 calories for entree items. However, this eliminates the possibility of serving certain high-calorie, healthy foods such as avocados, olive oil, and certain nuts.

The Press’ take on this is that the guidelines seem to focus more on calories and reducing fat than nutritional value of food—which often correlate, but are not mutually exclusive.

The idea that a low-fat diet is healthy was first developed all the way back in 1961—and it isn’t necessarily correct. In fact, according to Harvard nutrition experts, the low-fat concept has, in many cases, “caused us to replace even healthy fats with sugars and other simple carbohydrate foods that may actually be worse for our health.” Essentially, it’s encouraging the obesity epidemic.


The Patriot Press is also concerned that with the new school food guidelines, some students who really need the food could be avoiding it because they don’t like it.

For example, since the USDA updated its guidelines for the first time in nearly 20 years in 2012, participation in school lunches in Washington State has decreased by about 4.83% since the peak in 2011.

Students from the elementary to high school level are throwing away increasing amounts of compostable food. And what are they not eating? Mostly fruits and vegetables —the foods that we are now forced to pick up (even at Liberty) whether or not we want them.

The Press is concerned not only about the environmental impacts of so much wasted food going to landfills, but also about the monetary consequences for school districts wasting so much money on uneaten food.


These changing food guidelines are placing schools under increased economic pressure. However, few have considered the consequences of these actions on school programs—at Liberty, mainly the L’Café and DECA stores.

These organizations are losing profits both because they can’t sell many of the dishes they were able to previously (or have to alter them), and their customer base is decreasing as Liberty students decide not to purchase lunch there.*

Ironically, the new school lunch guidelines intended to make students healthier are driving many (particularly upperclassmen) to leave campus at lunch and buy food at Dairy Queen and Jack in the Box instead of school organizations. While continuing to divert funds from Liberty programs, this trend shows that the guidelines’ intention of improving students’ diets is having the complete opposite effect.


One way or another, teenagers will find ways to eat whatever food they want—whether it’s “Black Market” Ramen noodles sold out of a locker or a stop at the gas station on the way home from school.

Students eat more food at home than school anyway, and the district can’t enforce food policies in private homes. These new guidelines make no efforts to promote students’ health on a broader scale. Without emphasis on nutrition and health education, students have no incentive to permanently change their habits.

The Press believes that these new guidelines may be a “stumble” in the right direction, but not a “step”—not yet, anyway. They are pure in motive, but corrupt in methodology. We encourage the school district to take a step back and evaluate how effective these guidelines will truly be over time in improving the health and habits of America’s youth over time.

The Press also encourages the Liberty student body to begin discussion with their families about the value of these changes.

We have seen in the past that coalitions of passionate students and parents have been able to affect change in our communities—whether it be renaming a road to Patriot Way or convincing the Issaquah School Board to allow Liberty to keep its eight period schedule.

If the student body feels strongly about this issue, it is possible to begin educated discussions with the school district about it.

It’s clear that the health and future of our country is in danger from obesity, and actions taken to change the course of our future are commendable. However, the Patriot Press urges the district administration to recognize that altering the habits of high school students is going to take a more holistic effort than simply enforcing lunchtime food restrictions.