As schools across the nation face the July 1 implementation of stricter U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition standards required Michelle Obama’s campaign for healthy lunches, many are choosing to opt-out of the program and the funding that goes along with it.
School districts have said they are all in favor of healthy food, but their programs can’t break even if there aren’t enough students buying lunches because it is unappealing, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Rick Petfalski, School Board president for the Muskego-Norway School District in Wisconsin, told the Journal Sentinel that he believes “proper food nutrition and meal portion guidelines are best decided at a local level.”
“By leaving the program we will not be required to follow these onerous guidelines, pushed by and large by Michelle Obama, who last I checked has been elected by no one,” he said.
Opting-out means the district will no longer receive federal dollars to help cover the cost of free and reduced lunches. Ironically, doing so also means the district could see a surplus instead of a deficit.
Under the new guidelines, Petfalski anticipated a loss of $54,000 in the school lunch program, but if they opt-out they could see a surplus of $7,100, presuming more students will buy the lunches they prefer – and less food will end up in the trash.
House Republicans are trying to soften the burden on schools with a bill that postpones the USDA requirements for at least a year, so that schools can determine their own programs and still receive federal funding, according to Fox News.
But the first lady isn’t happy about that.
“I’m going to fight until the bitter end to make sure that every kid in this country continues to have the best nutrition that they can have in our schools,” she said at a recent White House, Fox News reported.
The Senate version of the bill does not include the one-year waiver and the White House has threatened to veto the House bill.
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