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Some Schools Quit Federal Food Program Over New Healthy Lunch Guidelines

Update Date: Oct 01, 2013 03:19 PM EDT
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School lunch is a very important meal during the day. When children eat a healthy and balanced school lunch, they can perform better in class with longer attention spans and better concentration. Over the past few years, programs have changed school lunches for the better. Several studies have found that after school lunches received a makeover, more children are eating better for their bodies. However, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a small portion of schools that are a part of the federally subsidized national school lunch program has quit the program after the latest guidelines were introduced last year.

The USDA reported that 524 schools out of 100,000 have left the $11 billion National School Lunch Program because the new guidelines are too difficult to follow. Some of these schools have reported that the guidelines in creating a healthier school lunch are also very expensive. Other schools have complained that the government should not have the power to tell children what they should and should not eat. The report stated that 90 of the schools specifically stated that the new standards in general caused them to quit the program.

"Some of the stuff we had to offer, they wouldn't eat," said Superintendent Gary Lewis according to the Province. "So you sit there and watch the kids, and you know they're hungry at the end of the day, and that led to some behavior and some lack of attentiveness."

Despite these dropouts, the new data also revealed that 80 percent of schools reported meeting the new guidelines, which could help with the fight against obesity. The guidelines, which were put into effect at the start of the 2012 school year, places limitations on calorie and salt intake. The guidelines also required schools to slowly incorporate more whole grains. Furthermore, schools that are still a part of the program must offer at least one vegetable or fruit per meal.

Schools that do not meet the new standards or have already quit the program will no longer receive any government funding money that reimburses the schools for the free or low-cost meals given to students who are financially challenged.

Despite the challenges behind meeting the new guidelines, the latest numbers reveal that it is possible. If more schools can comply and follow the new standards, the fight against childhood obesity could be stronger. 

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