Yet another school district, this time in the Obamas' home area of Chicago, has bailed out of the school lunch program first lady Michelle Obama has made her personal crusade.
Mundelein High School District 120l has joined with Stevenson District 125, Maine District 207, Glenbrook District 225 and Northwest Suburban High School District 214 in leaving the program, which had students tossing their "healthy" lunches into the garbage and saw the number of students buying the in-school lunches plummet, the Daily Herald reports.
Student lunch purchases dropped about 6 percent under the first lady's plan and students complained that portions were too small, the Herald reports, while in other districts which dumped the program, meal purchases increased 20 percent.
Federally mandated, pricey whole grain regulations and decreases in salt, sugar and fat have students posting photos of "yucky" school lunches on Twitter, labeled #ThanksMichelleObama, and sent many meals straight into the trash can, The Washington Post reports.
Across the nation, only 18 percent of schools participating in the program expect to break even, Independent Journal Review notes,
quoting School Nutrition Association CEO Patricia Montague as saying, "USDA’s [U.S. Department of Agriculture which administers the program] regulations were well intended, but have resulted in unintended, adverse consequences.
"Since the new standards took effect, 1.5 million dissatisfied students have given up on school meals, taking their lunch money with them. The financial impact is crippling some school meal programs and limiting their ability to invest in the kind of innovative, appealing menus that can entice students back to the cafeteria."
The newly passed budget bill
allowed some cash-strapped school districts leeway to create their own, tastier menus.
The bill states,
"The secretary shall allow States to grant an exemption from the whole grain requirements that took effect on or after July 1, 2014" and freezes sodium restrictions in "meals, foods, and snacks sold in schools ... until the latest scientific research establishes the reduction is beneficial for children."
Brietbart News reports
that a temporary one-year waiver for schools was dropped from the budget bill over threat of a presidential veto and after Mrs. Obama "adamantly protested" the tougher provisions. Now, schools have to prove hardship under the program to obtain a waiver.
Baldwinsville School District in New York also left the program, with superintendent David Hamilton telling NBC,
"I don’t think anyone is against the goal of this policy. We all want the students to be eating the healthiest things we can put in front of them, but it's about when that policy goal becomes a reality in the kitchen."
Food service director Brian Wright told NBC, "The data was there that the participation was going down. There are times when a student would take one of those beautiful fresh apples or a banana to the cash register, and it would go right in the trash can."
Now, he said, "We’re able to give the kids the freedom to choose. We still offer a whole grain roll, but we also offer a white roll as well."
Brietbart noted that a Cincinnati, Ohio, study found that $4 million in food was being tossed every day by dissatisfied kids, and a Harvard study found that 60 percent of fresh vegetables and 40 percent of fresh fruit were being dumped.
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