Elicenda Garza is a curious sophomore at Western International High School, who loves adventures and speaking her mind.
Last year, my youth group, 482Youth, surveyed students and teachers from Detroit. We wanted to know the biggest issue they thought they faced in their schools. The number one answer, out of all 700 surveys, was a lack of resources--something Wally has already informed you all pretty well on. As you probably know there aren’t enough books, desks, teachers, counselors, and other school necessities in our schools. But there’s one aspect that we haven’t covered when it comes to lacking the resources we need: overcrowded classrooms. Several studies have shown that large class sizes have a negative impact on student achievement, can cause a higher rate of discipline problems, and make it harder on teachers, often causing much unnecessary stress.
I’m sure everyone has heard “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” at least once in their lifetime. Whether they agree, or not, is a different matter, but I think we can all agree on the fact that food is important. We need food for our brains and bodies to properly function throughout the day. We need food that’s high in nutrients and vitamins, the sufficient amount. And honestly, we all prefer good tasting food, right? All that being said, you would expect for places like schools to meet these criteria right? Or at least some. Well, you’re in for a real treat.
For as long as I can remember I’ve hated school lunches. If my mom didn’t pack me a lunch for that day, I would be left pouting with a rumbling stomach. I've never really been the picky type but something about those school lunches always kind of grossed me out.
As I grew up and progressed through middle school, I noticed I wasn’t the only one. Dozens of people would skip the line for lunch, just to go and buy something from the vending machine until one day...tragedy hit. We received the news that Michelle Obama created a new public health campaign. With this campaign, a child nutrition reauthorization bill was passed that shut down school vending machines all around the country. Her aim was to reduce childhood obesity and encourage a healthy lifestyle in children, which is pretty noble, but it didn’t do too well in action. Kids were now being forced to pick a fruit or vegetable, that they didn’t even want, to go with each tray of mystery food. The mystery food didn’t even appear to be nutritious in any way, shape, or form--a lot of times it was grilled cheese in a bag, or maybe fried chicken. It always looked either too dry, or too wet. There was either not enough seasoning, or way too much. Not enough color, or a mix of unappealing colors that portrayed vomit. And don’t even ask me about if the food was ever expired--cause then I’d have to tell you it was. Often. I can assure you that at least half of it was wasted and thrown out every day. Now, I’m not being ungrateful, I understand that any food is better than no food, but if officials see that kids aren’t responding well to their meal plans, why can’t they just ask students what they’d’ enjoy? Why are kids being left hungry, or to eat junk food throughout the day? That doesn’t seem to encourage healthy eating at all.
Recently, I’ve started to realize how different my community is from other people’s.
Have you ever noticed how poor communities of color are portrayed in movies and shows? It is always much worse than how affluent, white neighborhoods are represented. The visual contrasts are vast, and the message is clear-- poor communities of color are different and don’t deserve the same things.These symbolic messages almost always impact our reality, which creates obvious divide between these communities.