Since first lady Michelle Obama helped implement more healthy offerings in school lunch programs, 1.6 million students have opted out. A major reason the kids gave for skipping the free meals: They’re just plain unpalatable, according to a Government Accountability Office report.
“All eight SFAs [school food authorities] we visited also noted that students expressed dislike for certain foods that were served to comply with the new requirements, such as whole grain-rich products and vegetables in the beans and peas (legumes) and red-orange sub-groups, and this may have affected participation,” the GAO said in its report, according to CNS News.
Interestingly enough, the report was titled, “Implementing Nutrition Changes Was Challenging and Clarification of Oversight Requirements Is Needed.”
“Further, some SFAs we visited noted that negative student reactions to lunches that complied with the new meat and grain portion size limits directly affected program participation in their districts,” the report said.
The school nutrition officials noted that changes made to sandwiches led “to a middle and high school boycott of school lunch by students” that lasted for three weeks, while “participation in school lunch significantly declined in those schools.”
The report also found a 10-year increase in school lunch program participation came to a halt and is now on the decline.
“According to our analysis of USDA’s data, total student participation—the total number of students who ate school lunches—dropped from school years 2010-2011 through 2012-2013 for a cumulative decline of 1.2 million students (or 3.7 percent), with the majority of the decrease occurring during school year 2012-2013,” the report said.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 required that the USDA update school lunches to account for new nutrition requirements.
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Some of the reason for decline in participation in the lunch program was because of challenges with implementing the new lunch content, such as palatability and “plate waste.”
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Other factors, such as complying with the new standards, made the process for school food authorities difficult.
On a segment of “Rachael Ray,” set to air Wednesday, the first lady revealed that when growing up, she abhorred liver and brussels sprouts, according to Entertainment Verizon.
She should have taken a cue from her own childhood before deciding what other children should have on their plates. If nothing else, it offers a valuable lesson to kids — there’s no such thing as a free lunch. A palatable one anyway.
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