Schools Dropping Healthy Lunch Program Because Our Kids Love Junk
Some schools are dropping out of the National School Lunch Program, which spends $11 billion to help fund school lunches nationwide. The program was established to improve nutrition in schools and serves healthier options to kids. Too bad many kids would rather skip lunch all together than eat healthy foods.
From Health Day News:
“Some of the stuff we had to offer, they wouldn’t eat,” Catlin, Ill., Superintendent Gary Lewis told the AP. He said his district saw a 10 to 12 percent drop in lunch sales, translating to $30,000 lost under the program last year.
“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,” Lewis said. He said fare from the days before the healthy lunch initiative, such as soups and fish sticks, will return to the cafeteria menu this coming term.
The program has been in place for only a year. Schools are losing money, because although they are reimbursed for every low or no cost meal served, the kids are skipping the meals. The Federal Lunch Program mandates these regulations for school lunches:
Offer fruits and vegetables as two
separate meal components;
• Offer fruit daily at breakfast and
• Offer vegetables daily at lunch,
including specific vegetable subgroups
weekly (dark green, orange, legumes,
and other as defined in the 2005 Dietary
Guidelines) and a limited quantity of
starchy vegetables throughout the week;
• Offer whole grains.
There has to be ways to make the food that they are drawn to like soup and fish sticks healthier. As parents, we all know you have to sneak this stuff in sometimes. Offering fruits and vegetables “as two separate meal components” sounds like a recipe for failure to me. It seems like a year is a little early to throw our hands up and say, Well, they won’t eat it. Back to the crap! But with schools struggling with budgets to begin with, I guess you really can’t expect them to give up on a money maker like lunch.
This is tough. It’s obvious healthy eating habits need to start at home, so kids aren’t repulsed by fruits and vegetables and actually want to consume them. That is a pretty simplistic solution, though. Our children are being exposed to junk from all directions – and very early on. We all need to work harder to feed them well, not give up at the first sign a healthy program isn’t working.