Let’s Move … Right past the lunch line and straight to the vending machines!
Implementation of the new 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 Rachel Ray whip up on a talk show, as opposed to something that a child might actually find enjoyable.
As a result, another school in New York is opting out of the federal lunch program, citing “hungry, frustrated” kids, as well as a loss of over $100,000 in lunch program revenue.
If the goal of the federal school lunch overhaul is to improve outcomes for children, somebody should tell its chief cheerleader – First Lady Michelle Obama – that it’s actually backfiring.
Officials in New York’s Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district have become the latest to opt out of the National School Lunch Program, citing “hungry, frustrated children plus lost income.”
“[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. Students complained of being hungry with these lunches and the district lost money. I’m confident we can do better on our own next year,” assistant superintendent Chris Abdoo said in a news release.
The lunch program lost about $100,000 for the school year, which is roughly the cost of one teaching position.
“Students felt they weren’t getting good value for their money,” Boehm said. “The high schoolers especially complained the portion sizes were too small, and many more students brought in lunch from home.”
One example provided by the district that was a “turn off” to elementary students included canned green beans and “part” of a chicken patty on a mini croissant.
Last year, 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.
According to Voorheesville Superintendent Teresa Snyder, the cost of implementing food items that nobody ends up eating is overwhelming. Snyder told the Times Union that, “the new mandate ended up blowing the school’s food budget and cost the school $30,000 in the first quarter alone, money that is hard to find in a district already strapped for money.”
She added that half the kids dropped out of the school lunch program, while the rest “ended up throwing a lot of their vegetables in the trash.”
One parent explains 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!
Another school district in upstate New York announced they too would opt out of the lunch program. But for Niskayuna schools, the situation and the state of their meals is so bad, that they are willing to give up federal funding just to get their kids to eat lunch.
According to the Huffington Post in January:
The Niskayuna Board of Education unanimously voted to terminate participation in the program, effective April 1, after a semester-long stint has resulted in a net operating loss of nearly $70,500, Spotlightnews.com reports. The new rules, Food Service Director Suzanne Wixom tells WNYT, has resulted in more waste as students throw out more food they are forced to take but do not want to eat. The less appealing meals, district officials say, have also cut into revenue as the number of school lunch buyers have dropped by half.
Terminating participation in the program cost the district about $150,000.
In the end, perhaps it is the kids themselves that best explain why they are rebelling against the school lunch program…