Schools Drop Federal Lunch Menu: Costly, Students Still Hungry

By:  Raven Clabough
07/15/2013
       
Schools Drop Federal Lunch Menu: Costly, Students Still Hungry

Unfortunately for public school districts across the country, First Lady Michelle Obama’s preferred lunch plan has proven to be a costly fiasco.

The new menus are defined by regulations stemming from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The new standards include a requirement that each student take a serving of fruit or vegetable as part of their lunch. If the standards are not met, the federal government may end its subsidies of the school lunch program — driving up prices for both students and school districts.

Under the standards, schools have had to forgo the cheaper enriched grains and instead serve more expensive whole grain choices such as brown rice, whole wheat breads, and whole grain pasta. Likewise, schools have been told to serve a wider variety of fruits and vegetables including red, yellow, and green leafy vegetables and low-sodium proteins.

The guidelines set minimum and maximum calories per meal by age group and provide sample lunch menus.

As predicted by some critics, however, the new regulations have met with growing opposition from students.

New York’s Burnt-Hills-Ballston Lake school district finally opted out of Michelle Obama’s menu plan after too many students complained that they were still hungry after eating the prepared lunches.

“[Food service manager Nicky] Boehm and her staff worked hard to implement the new regulations, but there were just too many problems and too many foods that students did not like and would not purchase,” said Assistant Superintendent Chris Abdoo about the National School Lunch Program in a statement reported by EAGNews.org. “Students complained of being hungry with these lunches and the district lost money.”

EAGNews noted that the federal menu included minute portions such as part of a chicken patty on a tiny croissant. Boehm said,

Students felt they weren’t getting good value for their money. The high schoolers especially complained the portion sizes were too small and many more students brought in lunch from home.

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