August 27, 2013

Some schools nix new healthier lunch program

The Associated Press

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In this Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 file photo, students are given healthy choices on a lunch line at Draper Middle School in Rotterdam, N.Y. After just one year, some schools across the nation are dropping out of what was touted as a healthier federal lunch program, complaining that so many students refused the meals packed with whole grains, fruits and vegetables that their cafeterias were losing money. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

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In this Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 file photo, a student at Eastside Elementary School in Clinton, Miss., holds a school lunch served under federal standards, consisting of a flatbread roast beef sandwich, apple sauce, chocolate milk and a cookie. After just one year, some schools across the nation are dropping out of what was touted as a healthier federal lunch program, complaining that so many students refused the meals packed with whole grains, fruits and vegetables that their cafeterias were losing money. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

The new guidelines set limits on calories and salt, phase in more whole grains and require that fruit and vegetables be served daily. A typical elementary school meal under the program consisted of whole-wheat cheese pizza, baked sweet potato fries, grape tomatoes with low-fat ranch dip, applesauce and 1 percent milk.

In December, the Agriculture Department, responding to complaints that kids weren't getting enough to eat, relaxed the 2-ounce-per-day limit on grains and meats while keeping the calorie limits.

At Wallace County High in Sharon Springs, Kan., football player Callahan Grund said the revision helped, but he and his friends still weren't thrilled by the calorie limits (750-850 for high school) when they had hours of calorie-burning practice after school. The idea of dropping the program has come up at board meetings, but the district is sticking with it for now.

"A lot of kids were resorting to going over to the convenience store across the block from school and kids were buying junk food," the 17-year-old said. "It was kind of ironic that we're downsizing the amount of food to cut down on obesity but kids are going and getting junk food to fill that hunger."

To make the point, Grund and his schoolmates starred last year in a music video parody of the pop hit "We Are Young." Instead, they sang, "We Are Hungry."

It was funny, but Grund's mother, Chrysanne Grund, said her anxiety was not.

"I was quite literally panicked about how we would get enough food in these kids during the day," she said, "so we resorted to packing lunches most days."

 

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