Hunger-Free Kids Act: Is it Leaving Your Kids Hungry?

As parents and students around the country complain about the new legislation and its impacts on school lunches, we want to hear from you Tampa Bay.

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.

Kim Fox October 09, 2012 at 11:59 AM
The lunch items are far from low fat number one. I have seen them serve a pasta casserole with mashed potatoes. The kids are not allowed any salt at all which leaves the food flavorless. Alsot of the foods for breakfast that are being served are in microwavable packages (pancakes flavored with syrup, sugary cinnamon rolls, fruit turnovers) Any thing microwavable is processed and not healthy. I look at those lunches and feel so sorry for the kids that are made to eat them. I keep containers of yogurt for the kids so they won't be hungry.
Diana L October 09, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Michael D. October 09, 2012 at 01:02 PM
This law is completely short sighted. Yes, is there an issue with Childhood obsesity, but it's not solely due to food. The school lunches are roughly 700 to 800 calories which for a teenager playing sports is no where close to the proper about a fuel a body needs. I know in high school I played sports year round and I needed 1500 calories for lunch. We can tell people what to eat, but take away PE and physical activity? It makes plenty of sense.
abfs October 09, 2012 at 01:15 PM
My kids are not hungry or fat :) One loaf publix bakery bread- 2.59 1 jar organic peanut butter-3.49 / 1 jar of organic jelly-2.59 1 bunch of bananas- 3.00 1- organic juice boxes (8) 3.49 that is less than 20.00 for lunch for 4 kids for one week. Your kids health is worth your time. As for the money that is less than 1 dollar per day per child. Keep the "GMO " hand-outs !! That none of those in the white house will eat. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/10/09/ge-food-supporters-insist-organic-foods.aspx?e_cid=20121009_DNL_art_1
Jacque Mioff October 09, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Schools jobs are to teach, not feed. When will people wake up and realize that if you can't feed kids, you don't breed kids.
Becky Robbins October 09, 2012 at 01:45 PM
It's fine with me if the kids aren't forced to take what they won't eat. It's not fine with me if kids are being fed food that's not healthy. If the kids will eat yogurt, then that's what should be on their trays in the first place. It's also fine with me if some kids (athletes, as noted in one comment) get more calories. Surely there are ways to figure this out. As for "if you can't feed, don't breed," this advice is fine for adults, but has no bearing on the kids already in the lunch room. If this means we just let kids go hungry because they are poor and have parents who have made bad choices, sorry, I won't go there.
Laura October 09, 2012 at 01:58 PM
http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/06/04/chefs-move-raise-a-healthier-generation-kids. Why can't we take on our communities and help with these programs? If you read the article, you'll see that these are initiatives to help schools and children. This will be driven by public demand. My children are all out of the schools, but I can still see where there is a real lack in what the cafeterias are offering. I intend to help because the intention is good and based on need. Children will eat if they somehow feel vested in what they eat.
Gary Huckleberry October 09, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Everyone has a proper choice of what's on a pizza, but not who pays for the pizza.
ME October 09, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Kids should be taught at home to make better choices. When you see a big fat mommy with 2-3 big fat kids and a big fat daddy in tow at Walmart with an overflowing cart full of junk food, cake, pastries, iceccream, processed packages of microwave food, lots of processed cold cuts, white bread,and an assortment of other junk - how would you expect those kids to make healthy choices such as fruit and vegetables. It's not up to the government to make our choices. There is responsibility for your own actions necessary. Teach them at home! It's not the lunch staff's responsibility!
-Ed Harris- October 09, 2012 at 02:20 PM
I have four kids, three of which are in school. The two middle school boys take their lunch and have ever since they started school due to the block schedule of my daughter she can eat at home. Why? Because the school serves crap, whether it's it low fat or not, whether it's no salt or not it is still crap. My boys lunch consists of a sandwich on multi-grain bread, meat and cheese, a non fat yogurt containing fruit, a pc of fruit like banana, apple, pear or cherries and Booty brand chips. Each get's a 20oz bottle of water. Total cost is only a couple bucks more than school lunch. Total cal's 625, both kids are on the swim team in addition to dodge ball and fencing. They usually have breakfast and always a good dinner. In the afternoon they have another pc of fruit or a energy bar. That all being said as they get to high school they will need to take in 3500-5000 cal's per day depending on their activity. I will pack more food. For the record anyone can get more food for free at school, it's just not the food they want. ahhhhhhhhh! Part of being a parent is saying no! Eat your vegi's. If you have to carb load at age 15-18 something is up and your destroying your body. Some of the most destroyed bodies are those of pro-athletes and they started in high school. The smart one's know better and eat right. The law is fine the parenting is broken.
Jacque Mioff October 09, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Kudos to a father that takes responsibility! Good job, Mr. Harris!
Michael D. October 09, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Ed, The law is flawed, the only extra food is vegatables or fruit. In the case of a number of sports what is needed it extra protein. I know I used to eat two pieces of chicken for lunch while in High School. I could barely keep weight on while play football, track, basketball, etc through out the school year. I agree eating right starts at home, as with any learned behavior. But the options have to be there to eat.
Samuel Clemens October 09, 2012 at 02:49 PM
As usual, simply look at the title of the well intentioned legislation................then envision the opposite and you have reality. Hunger-free? Really? Does anybody, other than Michael D understand what this is actually accomplishing? Let's see, they practically cut the servings in half, but kept the prices the same. My God, you would think this was a Republican idea to help pad the pockets of their rich friends....says the sheep. So were the children overpaying before or are the underpaying now? I think we know the answer to that. So not only are they "making more money" by cutting the servings in half.......but guess what, they are so small, many children are purchasing two lunches. So they are decreasing the serving size, charging the same price and then having students purchase additional lunches to compensate for the lost calories. Yep, definitely sounds like the workings of a politician. Everything is done under the guise of protection or safety, the masses applaud.......never fully understanding the ramifications......and then years down the road we all deal with the consequences...but don't worry, when that time comes, they will again have some answers.................for a problem they created. IT'S NOT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE FEDERAL GOVT TO TELL ANY OF OUR LOCAL SCHOOLS HOW TO RUN ANYTHING. We need to abolish the Dept of Education. If you gasp at this, you obviously aren't aware how the demise of our students started with the DEO.
Laura October 09, 2012 at 02:56 PM
I am always happy to say I fed my children well and we ate together every night, but not all families operate that way. Teaching and exposing children outside of a home environment is a good thing – esp. if they don't have parents that do or understand how to eat well. In a sense, when saying it is the parent's responsibility, we ignore the fact that we can make the foods better, but don't want to. We can make a difference in school lunches; most of you that posted a comment see a need for it, so why not try?
Samuel Clemens October 09, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Becky, do you know anything about GMO? Even heard of it? Not all foods "healthy" foods are truly healthy? How about aspartame? Hope you're not speaking of Diet Yogurt when you reference Yogurt? People speak of healthy choices, yet I have seen the vending machines only carry drinks containing Aspartame? Where's the healthy choice there? Aspartame is a poison.........and you are going to talk to me about them offering healthy choices to the children? Give me a break? You say people can still bring food from home? Really? http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-04-11/news/ct-met-school-lunch-restrictions-041120110410_1_lunch-food-provider-public-school Don't people understand the powers-that-be want control over every aspect of our lives. They convince people like Laura to applaud and push forth these measures.......because of their good intentions............without ever thinking of the entire picture.
Samuel Clemens October 09, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I pray all will look into Genetically Modified Foods(GMO) and how insanely dangerous they are to the health and well being of the planet. Monsanto controls the FDA and they are attempting to control the food supply. Not all veggies are created the same. FYI: Monsanto genetically modifies their seeds to be either: A. A poison producer. The BT toxin kills the bugs that attempt to eat it..........and then humans consume it. Please look into this, it is very unwise to eat these crops. B. A poison drinker. The farmers are able to douse the crops with RoundUp....conveniently created by Monsanto........and it kills everything BUT the food we are to consume. Not only the are the seeds created to drink or produce poison, but they are copyrighted and rarely reproduce.....so the farmers must purchase seeds from Monsanto every single year. If they're caught using the seeds, they can go to prison. How about this? www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1082559/The-GM-genocide-Thousands-Indian-farmers-committing-suicide-using-genetically-modified-crops.html Countries around the world are passing laws banning GMO foods, yet Americans are chowing down on these Frankenfoods. We're fighting to simply have these foods labeled and the Food Manufacturers/Politicians are fighting against it left and right. GMO......OMG.......WTF........R.....WE.....EATING? Rent this to learn a little more about the Food industry in America: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqQVll-MP3I
abfs October 09, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Go Sam - u get it ! Now we must spread it :) Please read what your presidents and their families eat ! Elephants and Donkeys -http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/10/09/ge-food-supporters-insist-organic-foods.aspx?e_cid=20121009_DNL_art_1....
DY October 09, 2012 at 04:51 PM
My children are in 4th and 6th grade. Last year my 4th grader chose to eat about school lunch about half of the days each month and my 6th grader chose to eat the school lunches about a quarter of the month (we would print out the menu and they would choose). This year they are choosing not to eat lunch at all at school. They say they are hungry afterwards and they don't like the food either. My children don't eat sweets and junk food very in frequently and don't drink soda at all. They have always eaten healthy food because that is what I have always given them. So, this is not a matter of children who are not used to a healthy diet. They are also fit and lean. They are not huge eaters. All this being said, the new school lunches taste horrible to them and also leave them hungry.
Laura October 09, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Do you think it is the ingredients or the chefs that make the lunches horrible? I thought the criteria was for healthier ingredients.
JS October 09, 2012 at 07:28 PM
You mean to tell me you can't even rely on the government to make your kid a lunch? lol, and most of you buffoons want them managing your health care. Brilliant.
Anti-Westboro Baptist October 09, 2012 at 07:46 PM
I feel like if we could set aside our political beliefs/agendas just long enough to talk this through we could come up with a solution. Whether or not the law is flawed is pointless, every law is flawed and far from perfect. Somebody had to step up and swing so I don't blame PBO or his wife. I actually remember when school lunches at Dunedin Elem tasted good and were pretty good for you. That was in 1972 lol. The Federal government should stick their noses in and say use good things but at the same time the county should find a way to make the food so humans can eat it! The sports that need their players getting more food should be able to put in a request for each member that needs more. In the end not everyone will be happy but the kids might be healthier and happier!
JS October 09, 2012 at 08:18 PM
And in 1972 the vast majority served were not paid for by the government, let's not leave that little point out. So if you think Washington, Tallahassee, or even Pinellas county is going to keep their noses out of something they control the purse strings on you are living in an Anti Westboro wonderland. The people have voted for this type of micro control on their lives with the leaders they elected, now live with it and quit moaning and groaning when your free lunch doesn't taste good. If it is really deplorable have your mother make it and bring your own. Maybe we can't pass a tax credit for that so you won't feel short changed.
Michael D. October 09, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Actually the fact that is it so badly flawed is quite the point. You want to teach kids how to eat proper nutrition, but not give them the proper nutrition that is needed. It is horribly flawed like they were following the old hieght/weight charts from the 1970s to determine what should go in the calorie count. Do we have obsese kids, yes. Well, you take away Physical Education due to fear of lawsuits and have kids inside all day what do you think is going to happen. Parents are where this education should start, and health class in school. But we can't have health class because we can't tell kids how the body is supposed to work. Bush administration took away health and life management classes out of schools because they might discuss birth control. Now the Obama administration is trying to limit down our meals. The play 60 initiative ny the First Lady was a good initiative, and well intentioned. This short sighted and completely mismanaged. This is as bad as the sugary drink bad in New York City. Well intentioned, wrong execution.
-Ed Harris- October 09, 2012 at 09:17 PM
I agree with Mike, JS and Anti. Laugh if you want but your all correct. I don't have a problem with govt standards as long as they are current and flex enough to allow change at a local level, such as athletes etc but it is what it is, school lunch not TGIFrdays. Fixing your kid a somewhat healthy lunch is just not a big deal. If you can't afford that and your kids qualifies for a free or reduced lunch you should not be served crap either. There are school systems that make this happen without the problems we see here. Charter schools do suck out resources from Public schools but are seeming to have some better luck with grades however they have stricter rules and guidelines than Public schools so who knows. I know saying give your kid an apple and make him/her play outside is too simple but it's a start.
JS October 09, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Hey Ed, no one has a problem with government standards until they have to adhere with ones they don't like. As long as the government is passing them on someone else, hey, no big deal! I don't care that this business has to comply with this ridiculous standard or the person living in this part of town has to comply with that ridiculous standard, but whoooaaa, when the standard starts to affect us personally, well then, it's a different story. This is simply a reaction to that phenomena. And curse the day some legislator sees your comment " give your kid an apple and make him/her play outside." It will be a new regulation. The government will supply the apple requiring size, grade and color of apple, time outside, activity spent in that time, activities not allowed, on and on and on. Then someone will complain the apples the government supplies are not right and the kids can't play army on the swings because it's violent. The cycle continues.
Gary Huckleberry October 10, 2012 at 11:34 AM
An extortion financed government is not qualified to govern food, home, work, or army.
BlFalconskeep October 10, 2012 at 01:30 PM
My children have never been called obese, chunky or fat. They are athletically built with high metabalisms. School lunches should be healthy, yes, but they should also be appealing to the children. My kids come home from school and they are ready to eat the wallpaper off the walls. They tell me they are starving. My oldest daughter lifts weights, my middle daughter sports "6 pack" abs and my youngest daughter can't seem to take in enough calories to keep in slim pants although she can out eat my husband (you would have to see the size difference to truly get the point- 4ft 3" vs 6ft 3"). There are such things called "Nutrionists" and "Dieticians". The school system is supposed to employ one. Wait, they do! Instead of big government telling everybody what to do (I dont see them with the credentials to say they are Drs, Nutrionists or Dieticians), why dont they let the states and the people with the knowledge work with parents and kids to make up school lunches that are filling, nutritional and balanced? Who knows our children better than those of us that are with them all the time? The White House and Congress have never met my children, so I dont see why they believe they should dictate what is served to them.
BlFalconskeep October 10, 2012 at 02:32 PM
I agree with you. The meals I have seen are full of processed foods that contain empty calories and help promote diabetes and other problems. These kids need meals that are tasty, nutritious and have the proper calories and filling properties to keep our kids happy and healthy so they can learn better. My kids love homemade fruit smoothies for breakfast with an english muffin. Even though I dont have alot of money, this is something I can make that doesnt cost alot of money, filling, nutritious and tastes good. Things like this dont take much. Tasty food can be nutritious and filling without empty calories and full of artificial ingredients and preservatives.
Laura October 11, 2012 at 11:51 AM
I also attended a meeting, hosted by Food and Water Watch & Going Green, to help get support for "Let Me Decide" a campaign to get GE (genetically engineered) foods labeled. I am trying to do what I can to get rid of or control GMOs. What are you doing? I am active in my community to try to make a difference. I do look at the big picture and do what I can to make a difference. If you go back to the initative I referred to, its also about growing locally and involving chefs in our school system. Its all good stuff we can control on a local level. If you don't like government, go out in your community and show them how you can make a change.
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