According to a WCPO report, new federal guidelines endorsed by Michelle Obama and implemented through the Department of Agriculture are costing schools – and, in turn, taxpayers – millions of dollars daily.
While the law forces the USDA to spend about $12 billion – or roughly double the amount allotted in 2000 – on the program, kids are increasingly tossing out the fruits and vegetables now mandated to appear on cafeteria trays regardless of their reception. A whopping 81.2 percent of schools contacted by the National School Nutrition Association reported a spike in lunches that now end up in the trash as a direct result of the nutrition regulations.
Cornell and Brigham Young universities looked at the data and determined an astounding $4 million in food is wasted each day in lunchrooms across the nation. In one district alone–California’s Los Angeles Unified School District–the program is resulting in six-digit daily revenue loss.
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The result has caused even those who agree with the program in principle to criticize its results.
Ohio School Nutrition Association member Jeni Lange called the concept “just wonderful,” but noted that “it’s going to be a waste” if the students are unwilling to eat what they are served.
Of course, this is far from the first report regarding the law’s icy reception by students and administrators. As it stands, hundreds of districts have severed ties with the program despite the fact that doing so results in a precipitous drop in federal funding.
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Other districts are trying to find new ways to give kids meals they will find palatable. Amy Merda, food service director for Canton Local Schools in Ohio, touted the addition of a former chef to her staff. The result has produced lunches students are more likely to eat; however, the ever-unpopular vegetable and fruit portions of the meals are still generally left uneaten.
WCPO cited several school officials who defended their decision to drop out of the program based on the fact that it is wasteful and kids are leaving the lunchroom hungry.
“I have to think that across the country it has to be a staggering amount of food going to waste,” reasoned Gene Kirchner, superintendent of Kentucky’s Fort Thomas School District, “and I think there are people out there who could really use that food.”
H/T: The Minority Report
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