Move Over, Spinach and Fresh Fruit: Chicken Fingers Are Coming Back to School

So they've pooped out already.  The AP reports today that many school districts that opted to replace pizza and chicken fingers with spinach salads and fresh fruit are now going right back to fattening, greasy food because the kids just weren't interested.

Apparently, they lost a lot of money and threw away a lot of food.  And had a lot of kids who didn't eat and were too hungry to concentrate as the day wore on. Writes Carolyn Thompson, "Districts that rejected the program say the reimbursement was not enough to offset losses from students who began avoiding the lunch line and bringing food from home or, in some cases, going hungry."

Many schools are cutting ties with the $11 billion National School Lunch Program, which reimburses schools for meals served and gives them access to lower-priced food, she reports.

"Some of the stuff we had to offer, they wouldn't eat," Thompson quotes Catlin, Ill., Superintendent Gary Lewis, whose district saw a 10% to 12% drop in lunch sales, translating to $30,000 lost under the program last year. "So you sit there and watch the kids, and you know they're hungry at the end of the day, and that led to some behavior and some lack of attentiveness."

Dr. Janey Thornton, deputy undersecretary for USDA's Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, saw a ray of hope, according to Thompson.  The agency oversees the program.  "Many of these children have never seen or tasted some of the fruits and vegetables that are being served before, and it takes a while to adapt and learn," she told Thompson.

The School Nutrition Association found that 1% of 521 district nutrition directors surveyed over the summer planned to drop out of the program in the 2013-14 school year and about 3% were considering the move. It doesn't sound like a big number but it's a lot of kids.

I have no room to talk.  My son, who has never bought a school lunch in his life, takes saltines and graham crackers as his lunch.  At least he drinks a bottle of water instead of that sugary garbage.


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