In 2012, kids across the country might have seen a change in their school lunches: Goodbye pizza sticks, hello "oven-baked fish nuggets." So much for tater tots ... you'll now be munching on "grape tomatoes, raw."
Two years earlier, Congress passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which contained new standards for healthier school lunches that had been trumpeted by First Lady Michelle Obama and her “Let’s Move” campaign. Among other things, the law mandated more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with cuts to calories and sodium.
The results are in, and suffice it to say, we are not breeding a nation of future Alice Waterses.
The School Nutrition Association (SNA), the school food vendors' lobby, has complained that student participation in the school lunch program has plummeted across the country. The group says that almost half of school meal programs reported declines in revenue in the 2012-13 school year, and 90 percent said food costs were up.
A recent study of Los Angeles school kids found that among students who took a fruit or vegetable from the lunch line, 22 percent threw away the fruit, and 31 percent tossed the vegetables without eating a single bite.
The House of Representatives is debating a bill that would grant schools a waiver from the healthier standards, which are otherwise set to become even more strict in July.