Let’s Move … right past the lunch line and straight to the vending machines!
Implementation of the federal guidelines for school lunches is being met with much resistance these days, mainly because the meals being prepared are tasteless and drab and – surprise! – the kids are simply tossing out their vegetables and finding other ways to eat better tasting snacks.
Of course, it’s no wonder students are ditching the federally approved lunches when their choices are something you’d expect to see Rachael Ray whip up on a talk show, as opposed to something that a child might actually find enjoyable.
More than a million kids confronted by healthier school lunches are turning up their noses, leaving the cafeteria and heading out to get a burger instead.
The difficulty in getting students to eat lower-fat, lower-sodium meals is at the center of a food fight between House Republicans and first lady Michelle Obama that erupted this week.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, supported by President Obama, requires lunch programs that receive federal dollars to provide healthier meals. The new standards began to go into effect in 2012.
Childhood obesity has spiraled in recent decades, and the first lady has made the fight against it a signature issue. Democrats say stemming the epidemic will cut healthcare costs and keep the armed forces functioning.
But Agriculture Department statistics show the number of school children in the National School Lunch Program dropped from 31.8 million in 2011 to 30.7 million in 2013.
School boards are asking Congress to allow schools to opt out. Some schools are raiding their teaching budgets to cover the costs of mounds of wasted fruits and vegetables, Lucy Gettman of the National School Boards Association said.
Watch the report:
Last year in New York State, the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district dropped out of the school lunch program citing “hungry, frustrated children plus lost income.” Their lunch program lost roughly $100,000 during the school year.
The year before that, a couple of other New York school districts announced they would also opt out.
According to one report in the Times Union, the Voorheesville school district became the first in New York state to abandon the federal program, discussing these two tasty options for their students:
Carrots. Apples. A slice of ham and a slice of cheese between two pieces of wheat bread. That’s one lunch option. The other is a salad of mixed greens dribbled with feta and steak sliced on the side.
Oh yea, sign me up. If I’m a kid in school and the lunch lady offers me a food product that is labeled as being “dribbled with” anything, I’m making my way to the nearest exit.
The superintendent of Voorheesville schools stated that their lunch program cost them $30,000 in the first quarter of that year alone. She said half the students dropped out of the program, while the remaining majority “ended up throwing a lot of their vegetables in the trash.”
Meanwhile, Niskayuna schools in upstate New York ended up with an operating loss of over $70,000 for one semester of the free lunch program. They were so desperate to get students to eat something for lunch, that the district dropped the federal program, costing them an additional $150,000.
One parent explained what the students are doing instead of eating their federally mandated lunches:
Michelle Burton, who has two children in the Averill Park district, said students who don’t like any of the healthy options choose to pick out the bags of chips and Twix candy bars at the end of the lunch line. She said the bland choices offered under the new federal mandate are healthier, but sometimes drive children to unhealthy choices.
“They’ve created a whole new problem,” she said. “They went too far too quickly.”
The healthy food program is actually driving kids to eat more bags of chips and candy bars!
Cross-posted at the Mental Recession