More Schools Cave Into Kids Who Don't Like Healthy Lunches
New nutrition standards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) went into effect on July 1 for schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program.
The new rules include: wheat bread, low-calorie drinks, no foods with trans fats, and low amounts of saturated or unsaturated fat in foods.
The USDA sets these rules as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and solicits advice from the Institute of Medicine.
However, some school officials are dropping out of the National School Lunch Program because children don't like to eat healthy foods and because it's a federal program endorsed by First Lady Michelle Obama.
A trend began earlier this year with parents and schools deferring to small children who refused to eat healthy foods at schools, and is continuing.
"We believe that proper food nutrition and meal portion guidelines are best decided at a local level," Rick Petfalski, School Board president for the Muskego-Norway School District in Wisconsin, told the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.
By dropping out of the National School Lunch Program, the Muskego-Norway School District will lose federal money, but can serve whatever food it wants.
The Muskego-Norway School District plans to spend less money on foods that students don't like and more money on meals that kids do like.
"By leaving the program we will not be required to follow these onerous guidelines, pushed by and large by Michelle Obama, who last I checked has been elected by no one," Petfalski said.
The Waterford Graded School District and the Central High School District of Westosha in Wisconsin have also decided to drop out of the National School Lunch Program because the kids refuse to eat healthy food and it costs the schools money.
"There was a lot of waste," said Waterford Graded School District Superintendent Christopher Joch. "The food ended up in the garbage instead of the kids' mouths."
However, Sherrie Tussler, executive director for the Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee, says that school districts where low income children need food are not complaining.
"If you're in a high-needs place, you'll never hear the same complaining," Tussler said. "The goal [of the lunch program] was never to get everything you want. It's about feeding kids."
The School Nutrition Association (SNA), a trade association for the food industry, wants Congress and the USDA to drop whole-grain requirements, relax limits on sodium levels and stop making kids eat a fruit or vegetable.
According to MediaMatters.org, the SNA represents Schwan's Food Service (maker of pizzas for schools) Kellogg's, Pepsico, Coca-Cola, Domino's Pizza and Tyson Foods.
The New York Times reported today that the SNA's lobbying has paid off with the GOP-controlled House:
Tthe House Appropriations Committee has passed a spending bill with a provision that would allow schools to waive the nutrition standards during the school year that begins in the fall. A vote by the full House is tentatively set after the Fourth of July recess. A similar amendment was offered for Senate spending bills, but Democrats canceled the debate after disagreeing with Republicans over that and other amendments.