Students across the country have voiced their disgust with the lunches their schools are now providing under Michelle Obama’s baby, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA). One Wisconsin high school senior is doing something about it.
Meghan Hellrood of D.C. Everest High School in Schofield, Wisconsin, is tired of the sub-par quality food and the one-size-fits-all mentality that the new school lunch regulations have produced. She decided to organize a boycott to draw attention to the new regulations and show lawmakers in Washington that students don’t agree with the act and want something better.
In an interview on Fox and Friends, Hellrood said:
“I love my school. My school is fantastic. And I know that they’re not the ones that have started this entire regulation. So what I really want is for this to go to Washington, basically. We can’t just depend on our local schools, because there’s thousands of other schools that also comply with this act. So if we go to Washington, maybe they’ll see that so many kids are upset with this and that there needs to be a change.”
Hellrood insists that the standards are not realistic for all students. At 90 pounds and 4 feet 11 inches, she says the food provided is not enough to fill even her up. “I’m served the same amount of food that the 220-pound senior football star is,” she said, commenting that she can’t even imagine how hungry the athletes must be. She also said she has heard her peers complain that they aren’t performing as well in the classroom or on the field because they are hungry and “out of energy.”
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Students who can afford it often bring food with them to supplement what they are getting in the cafeteria, or run to a convenience store after school to grab something to eat before practice or a game. Many, though, are going hungry.
One big problem is that, instead of providing higher quality, healthy foods, schools are just providing smaller portions of the same processed foods they were serving before, keeping them under the calorie limit the HHFKA stipulates.
“The whole point of it was to get healthier foods, but instead of healthier foods, we’re getting smaller portions of more processed foods.”
“We would be a lot more pleased with it if they actually gave us more healthy options instead of the calorie regulations on it. That’s what they seem to be more focused on.”
D.C. Everest Principal Tom Johansen said he understands why students are rejecting the new regulations, but he is in a difficult position because the federally funded program helps the school feed breakfast and lunch to most of their 1,200 students at a reasonable cost.
“It supports us in a way to help us provide better food service to kids. We, in our district alone, just the D.C. Everest district, receive over $1.2-million back from this program, so we’re able to provide more reasonable lunches for kids in the big picture.”
The program also supports the Free and Reduced Price Lunch Program, which provides meals for about one-fourth of their student population.
Hellrood’s boycott has received a lot of attention, and a Facebook page for the event has over 900 likes. She says she has heard from students all over the country who want to organize boycotts at their own schools.
“I’m actually hearing lots of students that actually want to be involved, and they’re asking me how to start up their own boycotts at their own schools, so I’m hoping that this is like a grass roots effort that could essentially go national, and more schools could pick it up so that more attention could be drawn to the issue.”
Things are already starting to happen. Johansen told WSAU: “The government agency who runs those programs, who sets up those restrictions and guidelines for schools to follow, have communicated with our food service director, and come in and said, ‘What suggestions do you have? And so that’s been a positive outcome already for this particular event.”
Hellrood has asked all students at D.C. Everest to participate in the boycott by packing a lunch instead of buying one, and estimates that the one-day boycott will cost the school about $3,000. For any students unable to bring their own lunch, sack lunches will be provided free of charge. The boycott is taking place today, November 13.
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h/t EAG News