Family Magazine

Problems with the School Lunch Law

By Newsanchormom
I am excited my son will soon have healthier options at lunch thanks to the Child Nutrition Law. That fatty pizza and greasy hot dogs have got to go! I do think he will fight me less at home if he eats healthier at school. However, the funding seems to be a big issue. I don't know how much school lunches will go up at my school, but I visited a school with around 40% of kids on free and reduced lunch. That school will see what I would consider significant increases in the cost of lunch. Here's the special report that aired tonight on HOI. (and don't get me started on the food safety mandate that requires schools to get rid of any food that touches a child's tray even the child didn't touch it. I understand the point of the law, but WOW there is a lot of wasted food at schools.)

In an effort to combat childhood obesity, the federal government is stepping in and requiring schools to offer healthier lunches. But those healthy options aren't cheap and some local schools are struggling to figure out how to pay for them.
Soon you won't see greasy pizza and soda for lunch at schools across the country.
The Child Nutrition Law will require schools to offer more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low sodium entrees.
Farmington Central School District 265 has already started implementing healthier choices like fruit baskets, bags of raw veggies and a salad bar everyday.
Food Service Director Sue Arbogast said, "I think it's a good thing. What parent wouldn't want their kid to eat healthier lunches?"
But there's a catch.
U.S. Representative Aaron Schock said,"The problem is as with many things in congress, there are good ideas, but if you don't fund them, they end up being an unfunded mandate on our local school districts."
Congressman Aaron Schock serves on a committee to curb childhood obesity. He wants kids to make healthier choices like skim milk instead of chocolate, but struggling Illinois schools don't have the money to pay for the changes.
Farmington Superintendent Mark Doan said, "To say it's not going to effect our parents is -I don't agree with that. It will. To what extent will be determined."
Around 40% of kids at Farmington Grade School are on the government funded lunch program. Right now kids who do pay are charged $1.80. That is expected to go up to $2.50 per meal."
Congressman Schock said, "I think unfortunately for many school districts, they are going to have to make other cuts to live up to the bill that was passed."
Superintendent Doan says the lunch program isn't there to make money, but it can't lost money either. And there's no guarantee kids will eat the higher cost, healthier foods.
Sue Arbogast said, "That is a challenge to get students to take broccoli-and they want you to give sweet potatoes. We have implemented that and it's slow."
We witnessed kids throwing out steamed carrots, unpeeled bananas, entire slices of whole grain pizza and raw carrots that hadn't even been opened.
Superintendent Doan said,"It is disconcerning when you see the amount of food that sometimes gets thrown in the trash." But research shows you have to offer a new food item to kids up to 10 times before they will start eating it. So don't give up.
At Farmington they're seeing real progress. Eating a banana and broccoli with fat free Ranch dip is becoming the norm. Their parents may be the ones who suffer by shelling out an additional $84.00 a year per student.

The Child Nutrition Law takes effect during the 2012-2013 school year. Most schools plan to slowly increase the cost of their school lunches over several years.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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