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“Students may take the food components they are required to as part of the school lunch but then choose not to eat them,” the GAO said. As a result, 48 out of 50 states cited waste as a challenge.

“In our lunch period observations in 7 of 17 schools, we saw many students throw away some or all of their fruits and vegetables,” the GAO said.

The “morale” for cafeteria workers has also suffered under the new standards.

“Staff in one SFA noted that the increased amount of time and effort to prepare fruits and vegetables also led to morale issues when staff saw students throw the fruits and vegetables in the trash,” the GAO said.

Lunchroom costs are also going up due to the need for “new spoons and ladles to match the new portion size requirements.” Thirty-one percent of SFAs nationwide said they needed additional kitchen equipment to comply with the new lunch requirements last school year.

The law mandated that schools increase the price of school lunches, causing students to stop buying “because they felt they were being asked to pay more for less food.” Kids who pay full price for meals declined by 10 percent last school year, the lowest rate in over a decade.

Challenges with the school lunch program, which cost $11.6 billion in 2012, are expected to continue, as further regulations go into effect. The “first of three” sodium limits starts in 2014-2015, though “many of the foods available from manufacturers do not yet comply with these limits.”

School officials noted, “it will be very difficult” to serve food that is “palatable to students” under the sodium standards.

As for the other requirements, the GAO said students would get used to it.

“Although school lunch participation has declined, it is likely that participation will improve over time as students adjust to the lunch changes,” they said.

Elizabeth Harrington is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Her email address is elizabeth@freebeacon. Her Twitter handle is @LizWFB.