School districts around the country are losing money because kids are rejecting Michelle Obama’s healthy school lunches – and those that do buy the lunches are tossing full lunches into the trash can.
One million kids have dropped out of the lunch program and prices are on the rise in several states.
“The students are clearly voting with their pocketbook,” Superintendent Robert Livernois of the Warren Consolidated Schools in Michigan told The Detroit News. “What I see down the road, as these regulations become stiffer, is our paying customers continuing to vote with their wallet and going elsewhere for their meals.”
Livernois was referring to a federal law called the Health Hunger Free Kids Act which mandates healthy foods such as fresh greens in school lunches. To be fair, the act was the work of Congress and not Michelle Obama, who only suggested the guidelines. School districts around the country are reporting that more kids than are ever are brown-bagging it, eating out, or even skipping lunch because of the law.
The act requires more fruits, vegetables and whole grain, as well as smaller portions and low fat milk in lunches, and it has increased prices and driven down participation. This has hit some school districts in the pocketbook, because the lunches cost more to make.
Last year Frontier Central in New York spent an average of $5.48 to make each lunch but took in only $4.79 on each one, and that includes government reimbursements. Five school districts in the Buffalo area plan to raise lunch prices by 25¢.
“We can’t run in a deficit,” Mary Brucz, the food service director for the Cheektowaga-Sloan school district near Buffalo, told The Buffalo News. “So we had to come to a cost that wasn’t going to hurt our families but could still keep us afloat.”
Teens: Mandated Lunches Don’t Provide Enough Food
The healthy school lunches are so unpopular that some teens and children have launched a social media war against them. Students have taken to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to vent their anger.
Some of the teens are complaining that the school lunches – because of the mandated small portions — don’t provide enough food. Not surprisingly, student athletes are among those angriest at the portions.
Teenagers’ attitude to the new school lunches may be best explained in a homemade music video by students at Wallace County High School in Sharon Springs, Kansas. The humorous video shows athletes collapsing in practice and football players burning copies of the law that mandated the lunches. It also shows lockers stuffed with junk food from the corner store.
“Tonight we are hungry,” is one of the main lyrics of the song. Another is “my friends are at the corner store getting some junk so they don’t waste away.” The song says teens need 2,000-4,000 calories, but the law allows for only 750-850 calories in the school lunch.
Next News Network showed Tweets posted by students who were complaining about the lunches. Among the lunches:
- A plain hamburger and half a kiwi. The caption to the photo read: “this is sad.”
- A tortilla, one piece of ham, iceberg lettuce and dressing. The caption said: “You seriously think this will keep the average teenager from being hungry?”
“I’ll never forgive Michelle Obama for this school lunch,” one student tweeted, according to Next News Network.
It appears that the only people happy with the new school lunches are the owners of convenience stores and fast food outlets within walking distance of schools. Their business apparently is increasing.
Who is right here – the teens or the government? Share your thoughts in the section below: