- Marionville mayor ‘kind of agreed’ with Kansas City shooter’s views
- Rev. Al Sharpton’s Easter message: Politically ‘crucified’ Obama has risen again
- Supreme Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies
- UNICEF launches ‘Mr. Poo’ mascot in India to curb public defecation
- Teen taking selfie by train: ‘Wow, that guy just kicked me in the head’
- Goodbye, Afghanistan — hello, Africa: Air Force to shift as U.S. exits Middle East
- Iran mulls ban on vasectomies, decrease on abortions to bolster population
- CNN op-ed claims right-wingers ‘more deadly than jihadists’
- Classes resume at high school rocked by stabbings
- ABC News accuses Center for Public Integrity of stealing Pulitzer-winning work
‘Healthier’ school lunch at what cost?
Critics predict waste
If the federal government gets its way, critics are warning, school lunches will be more expensive and less appetizing and ultimately will leave school districts footing the bill for costly food going down the garbage disposal.
Under regulations proposed this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would have the final say on what students eat. Educators fear the guidelines, trumpeted by first lady Michelle Obama and others as a key to curbing childhood obesity, will take a huge bite out of school budgets while resulting in “healthier” meals that make youngsters turn up their noses.
“Under the proposed rule, school meals would become so restrictive they would be unpalatable to many students,” said Karen Castaneda, director of food service at Pennridge School District in Perkasie, Pa.
For example, Ms. Castaneda said, the proposed sodium restrictions for student lunches resemble diets previously reserved for those battling serious illnesses such as kidney disease. The rules also would require students to eat more fruits and vegetables, forcing schools to serve extra apples and broccoli even if experience shows that children can’t - or won’t - eat them.
Breakfast programs are especially worrisome.
“The proposal will double the fruit serving … [and] would add a required meat serving daily,” said Sally Spero, food planning supervisor for the San Diego Unified School District. “Nothing is achieved when money is spent on food that children won’t even be able to consume and nothing is more disheartening … than to see perfectly good and perfectly untouched food thrown into the trash.”
The regulations would also require schools to spend more money for fresh fruits and vegetables. Many districts now serve cheaper canned fruits or frozen vegetables.
Administration officials say they have no interest in becoming what one called “the cupcake police,” and noted that educators, parents and the general public had been given time to comment and suggest changes. The public comment period ended April 13, and all suggestions will be analyzed and possibly incorporated into the final version, the Agriculture Department said in a statement Friday to The Washington Times.
The department also noted that the proposed rules are meant solely to “align school meals with the dietary guidelines as recommended by National Academies’ Institute of Medicine.”
What the government sees as a drive for more nutritious meals, some in the states see as an unfunded mandate from Washington.
Ms. Castaneda said her district’s food budget, including breakfast and lunch programs, would increase by $111,234 under the guidelines taking shape. Federal school lunch program reimbursements would cover $32,460, leaving the Pennridge district little choice but to raise lunch prices to come up with the remaining $78,774.
“Our concern is that the proposed regulation may result in having the opposite effect to that which it desires, driving up costs and driving children … out of the program,” said Barry Sackin, owner of B. Sackin and Associates, a consulting firm specializing in school nutrition.
Many of those issues received an airing at a House subcommittee hearing last week at which Mr. Sackin, Ms. Castaneda and Ms. Spero all testified. Some House Republicans have raised questions over whether the Obama administration has overstepped its authority in trying to dictate nutritional and other values for local school lunch programs.
While supporting healthy food for students, Mr. Sackin said, the proposed rule strives for perfection by sacrificing the “very good.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Wolfgang covers the White House for The Washington Times.
Before joining the Times in March 2011, Ben spent four years as a political reporter at the Republican-Herald in Pottsville, Pa.
He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Obama unveils new $600 billion jobs initiative
- Biden to lead $600 million work force training effort
- Separation of church and Obama: Religious ties may run deep, but president's attendance has not
- Obamas paid $98K in taxes in 2013, White House says
- Obama calls principal of Pa. high school devastated by stabbings
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By John R. Bolton
Reality calls for attaching Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- Rand and Ron Paul ride to the rescue for Bundy in Nevada standoff with feds
- Atheists rush to stage Easter display: 'Jesus Christ is a myth'
- Removal of military gear limits options for U.S., NATO in Ukraine
- CNN op-ed claims right-wingers 'more deadly than jihadists'
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- Nevada Bundy ranch standoff could leave dirt on Harry Reid reputation
- CARSON: Recovering Tocqueville's vision of American exceptionalism
- GOP writes legislation to deny Attorney General Eric Holder his salary
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.