‘Healthier’ school lunch at what cost?

Critics predict waste

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“Unfortunately, there is a perception that if we fix school meals we can fix childhood obesity. But the reality is that school meals are already the healthiest meals that many children eat,” he told lawmakers. “The fact that too many children start school already overweight certainly suggests that schools aren’t the cause.”

The American Association of School Administrators has called the plan a “direct unfunded mandate” imposed on school districts. The National School Boards Association on Friday released a statement saying it is “gravely concerned about the financial impact the law could have on school districts at a time when many are in dire economic straits.”

“Two years after implementation, the cost of a school breakfast may increase by more than 25 cents. The cost of a school lunch will have increased by more than 7 cents,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter, the California Republican who chairs the House subcommittee focusing on primary and secondary education issues. “The total compliance costs will reach $6.8 billion by 2016, costs that will fall heavily on states and schools.”

Mr. Hunter obtained his figures from the Agriculture Department’s analysis of the proposed rules.

“Let me be clear: We all want to combat child hunger and improve the health and well-being of low-income families,” Mr. Hunter said. “However, we should reject the false choice between our support of child nutrition and the critical need to rein in the size and cost of the federal government.”

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