As Congress begins the process of considering whether to re-authorize First Lady Michelle Obama’s woefully unpopular school lunch requirements, forces are building to turn back the rules because fewer kids are participating in school lunch programs, there are higher levels of food waste being recorded, and school administrators are even finding more kids running to nearby fast food or convenience stores to load up on the food they like.
The Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act–the law pushing Obama’s nutrition requirements–is certainly unpopular with kids, but the law is also not a hit with school administrators or lunchroom personnel.
Last week, the 55,000 members of the School Nutrition Association lobbied against Michelle’s strict requirements, saying that what many kids call “starvation” lunches are having very unfortunate and unintended consequences. With the First Lady’s lunches being so unpopular, food waste is at an all time high as kids throw away Michelle’s unappetizing servings.
Additionally, as SNA member Debbie Beauvais notes, kids are sneaking to local stores to get the food they would rather eat.
“We have a new problem where we have to police the front doors,” Beauvais recently said. “Security is turning into a concierge because fast food trucks are pulling up. Kids are texting the local pizzeria and pizzas are showing up at lunch.”
As for the food waste, just in her district, Beauvais said that the vegetable mandate alone led to $25,834 in food waste.
As The Hill recently reported, “Of the students who are eating the school lunch, Beauvais said 23 percent are throwing away the half-cup of fruit or vegetables they are forced to take, which cost on average 26 cents each. With $112,320 spent on 432,000 cups of fruit or vegetables served a year, that’s $25,834 wasted.”
This cost is compounded to millions of dollars of food waste in schools across the country.
The SNA’s 55,000 school lunch workers insist that Obama’s starvation lunches are a big problem. The SNA wants to retool Obama’s program to give schools the flexibility to “allow schools to prepare healthy meals students will eat.”
Not everyone involved in school nutrition is calling for a complete end to the program, though. In a very politic manner, Lynn Harvey, chief of school nutrition services at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, tried to sound upbeat about the idea behind the program.
“I think right off the bat we admitted that the Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act has created a lot of positive change in school meals and we certainly don’t want to roll back school meal standards to where we were prior to the implementation,” Harvey said.
But even Harvey insisted that having more flexibility to act would be preferable to the from-the-top, overly strict requirements that Obama’s school lunch program imposes on schools.
Whatever happens, First Lady Michelle Obama is moving full speed ahead with her unpopular rules and has said that she will fight for her program “until the bitter end.”
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth