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Old favorites return to MHS lunch trays

posted Oct 13, 2019, 2:21 PM by Andrew Tichy
By: Keegan Lee
News Reporter

The year was 2008: High School Musical 3 and WALL-E were in theaters, Miley Cyrus was at the height of her career, and America had just elected its first black president. Arguably one of the largest moments in modern history, it ushered in a lot of change in this country. Some were immediate and others didn’t appear until much later. One such change, which would greatly affect children in school cafeterias all around the nation, wasn’t felt for another two years.

In 2010 the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) was passed. Among other things, it set new nutrition standards for schools and allowed the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to make significant reforms to school lunch for the first time in 30 years. What it meant for the average kid from Moorhead was a near complete overhaul of their daily lunches. Among those lost to the changes were french toast, tacos, grilled cheese, Christmas cookies, and fried chicken. For many students, the change was tough to swallow. Sure, lunches were much healthier, but they weren’t fun anymore. The food served was now was basic, bland, and boring. 

Eventually everyone got used to the new menu, but nobody forgot how things used to be. Jeana Lee, a current freshman at Moorhead High, fondly remembers a wider lunch variety as a kid. “We used to get cookies with real sugar on top for Christmas. They were good too, not like the oatmeal raisin ones we get now,” said Lee. 

The HHFKA may have made changes for the better, but for kids who can remember what lunch was like before, things have always felt off. Like a shadow looming above; a reminder of what once was. 

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, things started to change again. As this school year slowly got moving, it became clear that some lunch menu items thought to be long lost were making a comeback. Within the first two weeks, Mac and Cheese, tacos, and fried chicken had all made their way back onto our lunch trays. This caused celebration for those who had dearly missed the old days of school lunch, but one had to wonder why they came back. “The meal regulations are still there, but it’s not like the Obama’s can enforce them anymore,” said one school lunch staffer at MHS. This seems to be at least partially true, as the USDA weakened its ability to enforce the HHKA in 2018, but it doesn’t give the whole picture for why these changes were made. District Food and Nutrition Director Donna Tvedt said there is more flexibility in menu planning. Actually I had [a] request to have a 4 week cycle instead of a 3 week cycle. This gives more menu options. The guidelines that I have to follow have not changed. So it’s possible, perhaps even probable, that the Obama-era regulations have nothing to do with the reemergence of past lunch options.

Change affects everyone differently. The change to school lunch menus seemed a great one for health conscious parents, but it came as a shock to public school children who felt the consequences. It may be inevitable, but it would seem that change doesn’t always last like we think it will. Those unsuspecting kids from 2008 had no idea what they were about to lose in just a couple of years, and they certainly didn’t know that it would reappear nearly a decade later.