Tags: obama | healthy | lunch | program

Schools Quit Michelle Obama's Lunch Program As They Lose Money

Thursday, 29 Aug 2013 01:10 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Schools across the country are pulling out of Michelle Obama's healthy lunch program due to students' lack of interest.

The $11 billion National School Lunch Program was implemented as part of the "Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010," a law pushed by the First Lady as part of her signature campaign to fight childhood obesity.

It works by reimbursing schools for the meals served as well as provides access to food at lower prices.

"Because of this act . . . 32 million children get more of the nutrition they need to learn and grow and be successful and I do hope it's delicious — we're working on that, yes, indeed," Obama said in May.

But according to teachers and parents, kids aren't eating the healthier food and are often left hungry, which has actually become a hindrance to learning.

"Kids can't learn when they're hungry!" parents told the Harlan Country Public Schools board members in rural Kentucky on August 20, Harlan Daily reports.

As a result, more and more kids are opting out of the healthier lunch program and either choosing to pack their own lunches or even not eating at all.

Since schools are not serving enough of the healthier lunches, they are losing the reimbursement money needed to offset their costs.

Superintendent Gary Lewis of Catlin, Ill., told the Associated Press that his district lost $30,000 during the last school year because of the program.

"Some of the stuff we had to offer, they wouldn't eat," Lewis said. "So you sit there and watch the kids, and you know they're hungry at the end of the day, and that led to some behavior and some lack of attentiveness."

The Voorheesville School District in Voorheesville, N.Y., says that it lost $30,000 in three months after kids stopped buying the lunches, ABC 2 News reports.

Add the Laguna Beach Unified School District in Laguna Beach, Calif., to that list. It has announced that they are abandoning the healthier lunch program due to lost money, CBS News reports.

However, not all school districts have the option of backing out. School districts with a large number of low-income students would lose money if they opted out.

Dr. Janey Thornton, the deputy undersecretary for USDA's Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, which oversees the program, told the AP that there is a discrepancy in the number of schools that have threatened to quit the program and the number that actually have.

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