Skip to comments.New school nutrition standards a recipe for problems? (lesson in why local control is best)
Posted on 09/08/2012 10:48:08 PM PDT by newzjunkey
In his gut, Kurt Myers knows when a student arrives at school on an empty stomach.
He can see it on a cold Monday morning in the coat that remains zipped and the hat that stays pulled down, in the rush to eat school breakfast as if it's the student's first meal in days.
And in the Reading School District, where 92 percent of students received free or reduced-price meals in 2011-12, Myers knows it doesn't take a food services director such as himself to realize that "when a student looks like he hasn't eaten all weekend, he probably hasn't eaten all weekend."
For that reason, Myers traditionally has had the district offer more than the required servings of protein at lunch, knowing it could be the last filling meal of the day for many students.
But this year, new lunch standards set by the national Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act are changing the way lunches are served and limiting the amount of protein city schools can serve.
Approved in 2010 and championed by first lady Michelle Obama, the law handed the U.S. Department of Agriculture the authority to mandate a menu makeover for 2012-13, introducing new grain and protein restrictions and more fruits and vegetables. ...
Berks County food service administrators have welcomed the law in spirit, embracing its combination of whole grains, fruits and vegetables as a way to combat childhood obesity.
But they are concerned that the act could prove a recipe for wasted food that will leave students anything but hunger-free even as it raises the average Berks school lunch price by 11 cents, from $2.22 to $2.33. ...
"If Johnny gets three-quarters of a cup of carrots and doesn't like carrots, he's going to dump the carrots in the trash," Myers said. "He's going to go home. He's going to be hungry, and he's going to plop on the couch and bust open a bag of chips."
And if Johnny receives free or reduced-price lunches and refuses to take a fruit or vegetable, the district will not receive its government reimbursement for the meal.
However, for every meal that complies with the new requirements, schools can receive an extra reimbursement of 6 cents, even if a student pays the full price.
In the Muhlenberg School District, food services coordinator Tony Brochu Jr. already is seeing and hearing, the law's effects. Within the first week of school, and with five chicken nuggets on his plate, a high school student turned to Brochu and asked, "Is this it?"
And an elementary parent sent an email that read, "I know there were sides that went with that, but I cannot believe that the school expects the children to have a full stomach on only three chicken nuggets."
The refrain is one that Vonda Cooke, the Pennsylvania Department of Education's food and nutrition director, said she has heard before.
Cooke said she understands that for some students, school lunch is the only substantive meal of the day. It will be important, she said, to steer those students into school-based snack programs or after-school food programs offered by community or child care facilities.
But Cooke noted that children need to learn to put fruits and vegetables, rather than proteins, at the center of a meal. Students can purchase more food at higher a la carte prices, but Cooke hopes the revised standards will train them to fill up on fruits and vegetables - and not just at lunch.
"That comes back to educating students on what is an acceptable snack to have, on what is a good dinner to have," she said. "I don't think it's unrealistic at all to have a student go home hungry.
"One of things we have taken into consideration is we are a snacking population." ...
Driven partly by the requirement to offer both a fruit and vegetable, prices are rising to better reflect the cost of fixing a meal.
The law urges school districts charging less than $2.51 a lunch to increase the price, preventing them from subsidizing paid meals with government reimbursements for free and reduced-priced meals. ...
To help cover the higher food costs, a school district can be certified as complying with the standards and receive a 6-cent reimbursement for every meal that meets the new requirements.
But based on even conservative estimates, Myers said that 6-cent reimbursement still will leave him with a $250,000 budget gap. ...
McKinney isn't sold on the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, particularly not when it limits high school students to 10 to 12 ounces of grains and proteins per week.
"With the restrictions I have now, I don't think I can put a value out there for $2.60 respecting the parents' money," McKinney said.
For athletes especially, he worries the law will backfire, forcing them to "go someplace down the road - to McDonald's, to Burger King, to Wendy's, to Roy Rogers - and get something that's a cheap boost of carbs."
"And so, have we improved what they're eating?" McKinney wondered. "Yes and no."
This is why local control is critical, not mandates from D.C., not tax money being laundered through the Washington central planners and returned with strings attached.
And if indeed a student has not eaten all weekend, should the parents not be contacted?
Because in my book that is child neglect.
This country is really going down the tubes. It seems that now we don’t even expect parents to feed their children.
Isn’t a high protein diet good for you?
Fruits are FULL of sugar, grains are FULL of carbs (which are sugars, of course)l veggies are good, of course.
What’s wrong with proteins? I thought a high protein low carb diet was good for you.
Oh, it’s like everyone has gotten so stupid, I just can’t deal with it.
I’m glad I’m the age I am, the end of my life is no longer out of sight. I won’t mind leaving this realm of the moronic.
yes it is neglect ..but i know teachers who send food home with kids at their own expense because they know the kids wong have food at home. parents sell food stamps or food from food stamps for drugs or cigaretts; that sort of thing.
exactly..and most nutritionist are fat and telling everyone else how to eat. most of the food they give the kids at school I would not have in my house. its junk. processed junk.
High protein diets are essential for kids.
So at my son’s school this year, they got rid of ranch dressing because they said it was not a healthy choice. But guess what??? Now NONE of the kids are choosing salad or carrots or broccoli, because there is no dip!!!!! ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
Odd. I would have thought that with obesity being the main health concern for children, complete elimination of the school lunch program would be indicated.
Our local school district sent a note home two-weeks ago about starting up MO’s “starve-your-kid-at-school” lunch program. Our 1st grader was so disgusted by what the cafeteria is now serving (or isn’t serving) that he insists that we pack his lunch everyday, which I’m more than happy to do.
In an era as refined as ours, when good manners, and fine breeding are a given, when every boy is well versed in table manners and restraint, to witness such a display, is truly evidence of starvation and good breeding overcome by base need.
Truly hungry people eat whatever food comes their way, yes, even the dreaded vegetables.
You're fortunate that's allowed in your area.
We've already seen a Chicago-area school ban packed lunches and North Carolina schools inspecting home-brought lunches for nutritional content and requiring purchase of replacement items.
Exactly. There wasn’t much “obesity” at Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, the Siberian Gulags, the Japanese prisoner cages or Luft Stalags, was there? If you saw a scrap of any kind of food, you’d jump for it.
Local control is only part of it. Knowing the school will feed their children, those on welfare will spend their state stipend on other things besides food. Welfare has destroyed a good portion of our society.
Exactly. The parents must be getting "food stamps" so what are they doing with them? Buying lottery tickets, booze, or whatever else they can get away with?
It all boils downs to obama not wanting to mess with his base. "You doan wanna go to the trouble a feeding yo chillun? Thass OK. We doot for you."
Actually, the article points out that this is true even for the kids who pay full price for their lunches.
It makes sense for schools to offer food on the premises, because it’s generally not possible for kids to leave the building to buy something, and some of them simply don’t like sandwiches. School food has never been great, but in the past, at least there was something they could buy that would get them through the day.
Michelle’s bizarre idea that kids are supposed to survive on vegetables alone is ridiculous and harmful to them. Maybe the next step is eating grass, the way the North Koreans do. For everybody except Moochelle, of course.
Sheep, all of them!
Pack his lunch while you still can...you do know that the next step will likely be to ban that practice.
If Obama is reelected - count on it.
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