Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The ‘Common Calorie’ Revolt | National Review Online

The ‘Common Calorie’ Revolt | National Review Online: "“Kids can’t learn when they’re hungry,” parents shouted to school-board members at a recent meeting in Harlan, Ky. School districts are complaining they are losing revenue because students won’t eat food they consider tasteless and are either brown-bagging it or buying food off-campus. In the past, school lunch programs operated at no cost to local taxpayers because students who could pay the full cost subsidized the free and reduced-lunch program and the schools could also use vending machines and à la carte menus to make money selling other items to students.

All that is changing. In the 2012–13 school year, 47 percent of school meal programs reported revenue losses, and nine of ten reported higher food costs. An increasing number of schools that don’t have a large number of students participating in the free or reduced-lunch programs are dropping out of the federal initiative entirely. Douglas County in Colorado withdrew its high schools this year because it feared that the new national standards would close its popular Subway franchise and other à la carte sales, crippling its meals program. For the first time ever, participation in the federal school-lunch program has fallen, from 31.93 million in 2011 to 30.51 million last year. “Fewer students are eating school meals, and the escalating costs of meeting overly prescriptive regulations are putting school meal programs in financial jeopardy,” Patricia Montague, CEO of the School Nutrition Association (SNA), told me last month."

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