Maggie: So, guys. Seriously important question: what is for lunch?
Scott: Well, you might be craving french fries, but most schools out there are probably going to be serving something a bit more healthy.
Shelby: Right, but what happens if students don’t want to eat it?
The new lunch rules are leaving a bad taste in the mouths of some school districts around the country.
Student: Can I have a salad, please?
Lunch lady: Yes, you may!
Shelby: Grumblings came from school boards in California to Illinois, Indiana and New York. Officials say students just aren’t eating the healthy lunch options. And that, according to some teachers, is leaving students too hungry to learn.
Schools also say they are losing money. Some students are brown bagging it and choosing not to buy school lunch. And there is also the cost of all the wasted food.
David Freedman: Anytime we try to get people to take a big push or force them into it, we can expect probably the majority of people to not want to make that leap.
Shelby: Under the healthy lunch program, the federal government dictates the portions and menus. Lunches must include fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains. There is also a calorie limit per meal – 850 calories for high school students, 700 for middle schoolers and 650 for elementary. Those calories then count towards the 1,800-2,400 calories that is considered a healthy range for teenage girls, or the 2,000-3,200 calories for boys.
At California’s Laguna Beach Unified School District, healthy lunches went over like a plate of cold leftovers.
Debra Appel: It’s not the chicken nuggets, it’s not the popcorn chicken, it’s not the corn dogs – the stuff that the kids really like.
Shelby: This year, the school district will try monthly taste tests and sell sandwiches to get students back into the caf line.
About 100,000 schools have signed up for the program, less than expected. But the USDA said there were no widespread problems because most lunches already met the healthy guidelines. And first lady Michelle Obama remains a big supporter.
Michelle Obama: Because of this act, as Tom mentioned, 32 million American children are getting more of the nutrition they need to learn and grow and be successful.
Shelby: Despite the opposition, some say the program is a step in the right direction to fighting the obesity epidemic sweeping the nation. But the program may have tried to go too far, too fast.
David H. Freedman: I think we need to be a little smarter about it and lower the bar and offer people more support so they can make smaller, more gradual steps.
Shelby: A handful of school districts have dropped out of the lunch program, but you can still eat healthy food that tastes good, right?
Maggie: Yeah, just head on over to Channelone.com for some tips. And make sure to check out my blog post because it is full of delicious lunch recipes.