Movie Review: “Cafeteria Confidential”
Reviewed by Amiah Taylor, 15
So have you ever wondered what’s really in your school lunches? I know I have, while dabbing the grease off of a slice of pizza or reading the nutrition facts on a candy bar from one of the lunchroom vending machines. Food is supposed to be fuel. So why are the most accessible cafeteria menu items sugary and deep fried—a combination that can only make us teenagers fat, restless, and hungry?
Allison Ewell used questions like these to power her quest to improve the food being offered in her school-wide community. Deep-fried onion rings and burgers just weren’t making the cut anymore, especially with the link to obesity and the rise in the number of obese people in America. Although created seven years ago, this documentary is still relevant today. It engaged me with startling statistics, such the amount of trans fats in cafeteria food. With the continuation of such a poor diet, the negative effects were visible as early as in your 20s, in the form of cholesterol problems, which are a gateway to other obesity-related diseases.
I’d like to say that as a viewer I liked Ewell and thought it was very considerate of her to take such an active role in helping others. Her sophomore year, she tried to battle the school and get them to remove all Coke machines, but to no avail. I admired her resilience though, and she returned as a junior to take on the school lunches. While health should be a priority, it takes a backseat to money, again and again. And although by the end greasy options haven’t been eradicated, Allison’s voice is reaching a broader audience and with the help of her friends and home economics class, healthier options are being prepared daily with affordable prices and great taste.
Watch this documentary! It’s short, but it packs a punch and will leave you wondering what positive changes you can make to your own diet, as well as how you can be an agent for change both in your community and others. Cafeteria Confidential gets four stars in my book for its relevance to the problems teens face. It was like a baby carrot: short, sweet, and all too quickly gone.
For more information on the topic of healthy school lunches, please see the Food Buzz article in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of our print magazine, Teen Voices on “The Secret Life of Lunch: Teen Voices Goes Beyond the Mystery Meat.” In addition, see our upcoming blog on the success of Sociedad Latina teens in advocating for healthier food choices within the Boston Public Schools.
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