Complaining about school lunches is a time-honored tradition that kids relish almost as much as they do summer vacation. This year, however, complaints are up as the effects of the federal Hunger-Free Kids Act are felt in lunchrooms all over America.
Some of those complaints are coming from unlikely sources–not just students and their parents–but also school district officials.
The act created new guidelines for student lunches that went into effect in August. Those guidelines call for limiting the amounts of proteins and grains offered, based on grade level, and requiring students to choose a fruit and a vegetable with their meals. Caloric limits are also in place.
While creating a more balanced menu might sound like a good idea, school district officials across the country are saying complaints and food waste are up and purchases of school lunches are down. Some students are saying they’re leaving the lunch table hungry. Others say they’re throwing out a lot of what they’re required to buy because they simply don’t like it.
School districts are also saying the new plan is costing them money–a lot of it.
for example, the new program is costing about $1.3 million more to implement than what the government provided to fund it. Plus, lunchroom workers are finding themselves having to serve up items students don’t want.
“Even if students don’t like beans, they’re going to see them on their plate,” said Pasco Schools' Food and Nutrition Services supervisor Julie Hedine.
Here are our questions to you Tampa Bay: Do you think it is government’s place to force certain items onto school lunchroom trays or do you think students and their parents should have the choice? Are your kids complaining more about lunches this year? Do they say they're hungry even after lunch? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.