Kids around the country are complaining that their school lunches are leaving them hungry, according to reports from both the Daily Caller [September 22] and Reason magazine [September 22]. There’s no mystery here: In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled new rules for USDA-provided school lunches that limit calories, salt, and fat; and require more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The rules were put in place to implement the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.”
Reason’s Baylen Linnekin reports some of the backlash:
Seventy percent of students at one Wisconsin high school boycotted USDA school lunches. As one student at the school told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the changes have meant the food is “worse tasting, smaller sized and higher priced.”
Across the country in Connecticut, a student petition protesting the smaller portion sizes resulted in the school district abandoning the rules after “only a few days.”
Different calorie limits apply to elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools; but schools have no flexibility to tailor meals to different students’ caloric needs. That means athletes with a high-metabolism get the same as amount of food as all other students. Nor do the new rules take into account that not all students have a weight problem.
Michelle Obama endorsed the new rules back in January, claiming that they would help prevent the hard work parents do giving their kids a balanced diet from being undermined in the school cafeteria. But according to both the Daily Caller and Reason articles, many parents are giving their kids a brown bag lunch to take to school so that they don’t have to eat the school-provided lunch.
Another problem: Many schools still offer chips and cookies a la cart, which means hungry students can supplement their USDA-approved lunch by loading up on junk food. That alone pretty much guarantees that the project will make absolutely zero contribution to fixing the obesity problem.