More federal regulations focused on school foods and drinks are expected to cost taxpayers millions of dollars. According to the American Action Forum, the regulations, which include caps on serving sizes and calories, will cost schools approximately $127 million and require more than 900,000 hours of paperwork.
The regulations would be administered by the United States Department of Agriculture and will require schools 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 will have to serve a wider variety of fruits and vegetables including red, yellow, and green leafy vegetables and low-sodium proteins. School federal funding will depend on schools meeting these requirements.
Schools that comply with the regulations will receive an extra six cents per meal to help cover increased costs, but that will hardly defray the increased costs, which will be approximately 10 cents per lunch and 27 cents per breakfast.
Sam Batkins of the American Action Forum told Fox News March 5 that the proposal is another example of an unfunded federal mandate that will hit schools “at a time when many of their budgets are still struggling.”
Officials at the Department of Agriculture have a solution: charge wealthier students more for full-price meals.
But many school districts, such as San Francisco, have decided to absorb the extra costs.
"Our schools will just have to absorb the shortfall, as they always have, driving the deficit for our (district's) student nutrition department even higher," said Dana Woldow, founder of PEACHSF.org, a school food advocacy site, back in January of 2012. "We must decide whether it is worth it to spend a little more money now to adequately fund school nutrition programs, so that children can learn to make healthy eating habits a way of life.... There is no free lunch."
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