Healthy Food Initiatives: Are They Working?
As students react negatively to healthy school lunch menu changes, some schools are dropping the program altogether.
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The Responsibility Project
In an ideal world, replacing junk food with healthier options would be easy and a matter of common sense. Vegetables would show up on the trays, kids would happily eat them and the students would get healthier over time.
But some schools are struggling with federal lunch nutrition regulations, finding that not only are kids throwing away lots of food, they are then going home complaining about going hungry.
North White School Corp. food service director Linda Wireman spoke with the Lafayette Journal & Courier about the complications that have arisen because of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. “I’ve had a lot of complaints, especially with the little guys,” Wireman told the paper. “They get a three-quarters cup of vegetables, but if it’s something they don’t like, it goes down the garbage disposal. So there are a lot of complaints they’re going home hungry.”
In fact, according to the Washington Times, one Indiana school district reported a loss of $300,000 due solely to wasted produce, fruit, vegetables and milk.
And although the Indiana schools haven’t dropped the program, other schools around the country are doing so, some replacing it with programs of their own. In New York, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district abandoned the program after losing $100,000 in wasted food. The district’s assistant superintendent, Chris Abdoo, explained that many students felt the lunches were too restrictive and the portions too small.
Spearheading the push for healthier options in school cafeterias is First Lady Michelle Obama, whose wish list for student meals would, according to the US Department of Agriculture, cost about $3.2 billion. But do the benefits provided by the program outweigh the cost of waste? Weigh in here.