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Schools dropping USDA healthy lunch guidelines

Published on 27 August 2013

The healthy school lunch push that has consumed the USDA for the past three years is looking like a meal with empty calories.

That's the growing perception of some school districts around the country. So it's no surprise that the AP is reporting an increase in districts dropping out of the healthier federal lunch programs that boast of more fruits and vegetables, lower calorie counts, less salt, more whole grains.

According to the story, students aren't eating the meals and when kids don't eat the food, the districts lose money. Even though the $11 billion National School Lunch Program reimburses districts and schools for meals served and greater access to lower-priced food, the demand is simply not there.

Demand is low because it's not providing students with enough food.

Last December, the USDA tried to revise its limit on grains and meats to 2 ounces per day. The modification helped, but it hasn't gone far enough for many schools.

Remember the students at Wallace County High School in Sharon Springs, Kansas? They're the ones who made the spoof video on YouTube – sung to the pop hit "We Are Young" but changed it to "We Are Hungry." See the video here and you'll see what their beef is (or isn't, as the case may be).

The AP story quotes from one of those students and his mother, as they tried to find enough calories to help keep kids running through school and after-school sports.

"I was quite literally panicked about how we would get enough food in these kids during the day," Chrysanne Grund said, "so we resorted to packing lunches most days."

At the same time, USA Today has reported that while fewer kids are buying the school lunches, an increased number of students are participating in the free breakfast programs. But the report is indicating that those participation rates may be influenced by economics for students and their families.

With both meals, it's apparent that well-fed students do better in schools, which is why the reduced calorie-intake for lunches and menu make-overs are ridiculous, and meatless Monday campaigns are even more laughable. At a time when many kids come to school to receive what would be their most nutritous meal options in a week – the USDA is choosing to reduce nutrition levels for basic food groups. How that helps students is questionable. end mark

 

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