Troublesome news about school lunches that follow the new nutritional guidelines in the US:
- Kids throw fruit and vegetables away and buy junk from vending machines instead. They claim that they go hungry with new school lunches, even though calorie content is about the same.
- Kids who qualify for free school lunches sometimes don’t take it at all because they want to avoid social stigma. Well-off kids take pictures of them and post them on Facebook, ridiculing their economic status. As a result, many kids go hungry and don’t get the nutrients they need.
I do hope that the first problem is solved with a little bit of time. Seems to be a full-blown manifestation of psychological reactance and initial rebellion. Also, it would be great to get rid of those vending machines at schools. Choice architectures – if it’s available and accessible, it will be eaten. Smarter Lunchrooms stuff needs to be used to make those vegetables seem less “gross”.
But it is sad to know that tons of vegetables and fruit are going to waste. Darned cool kids and their poisoned taste buds.
The second problem, technology-mediated social ostracism, is even more heartbreaking. Having been a target for ostracism in my middle school days, I feel lucky to have survived my teenage years before social media. It’s bad enough to hear derisive comments about one’s value as a person during school hours, but I imagine it must be thousand times worse to see those comments posted online with pictures that may or may not be photoshopped. Even if you have a tough skin, it is quite a lot to handle. Especially if there is really nothing you can do about the circumstances.
Obviously it’s not social media that’s to blame. It’s just a tool that can be used for good or bad. The troubling part is the phenomenon of bullying in itself. I feel that children should learn to understand and respect where food really comes from, and learn to understand and respect their fellow human beings as well. All horrid deeds in human history have started with someone deciding that they are better than other people.
In Finland, it’s free lunch for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status. It doesn’t solve all problems, but at least it makes people more equal.