Some school lunch programs opting out of school lunch program

29 Aug

Moi wrote in School lunches: The political hot potato:
There are some very good reasons why meals are provided at schools. Education Bug has a history of the school lunch program

President Harry S. Truman began the national school lunch program in 1946 as a measure of national security. He did so after reading a study that revealed many young men had been rejected from the World War II draft due to medical conditions caused by childhood malnutrition. Since that time more than 180 million lunches have been served to American children who attend either a public school or a non-profit private school.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (Agriculture Department) has a School Lunch Program Fact Sheet

According to the fact sheet, more than 30 million children are fed by the program. Physicians for Responsible Medicine criticize the content of school lunch programs

In Healthy School Lunches the physicians group says:

Menus in most school lunch programs are too high in saturated fat and cholesterol and too low in fiber- and nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (see PCRM’s 2008 School Lunch Report Card). Major changes are needed to encourage the health of the nation’s youth and to reverse the growing trends of obesity, early-onset diabetes, and hypertension, among other chronic diseases, in children and teens.

A 2003 General Accounting Office (GAO) reached the same conclusion. See, School Lunch Program: Efforts Needed to Improve Nutrition and Encourage and Healthy Eating

Several news outlets are reporting that some schools are opting out of the school lunch program. See, Michelle Obama-touted federal healthy lunch program leaves bad taste in some school districts’ mouths Some School Districts Quit Healthier Lunch Program

The Food Action Research Center summarizes the Highlights: Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. Here is a portion of the summary:

Highlights: Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010
Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2010
What’s in the bill:
The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act takes several steps forward to ensure that low-income children can participate in child nutrition programs and receive the meals they need, including:
• Expanding the Afterschool Meal Program to all 50 states;
• Supporting improvements to direct certification for school meals and other strategies to reduce red tape in helping children obtain school meals;
• Allowing state WIC agencies the option to certify children for up to one year;
• Mandating WIC electronic benefit transfer (EBT) implementation nationwide by October 1, 2020;
• Improving area eligibility rules so more family child care homes can use the CACFP program;
• Enhancing the nutritional quality of food served in school-based and preschool settings; and
• Making “competitive foods” offered or sold in schools more nutritious.
Out-of-School Time Provisions
• Expands the Afterschool Meal Program (through the Child and Adult Care Food Program) to all states. The program currently is available in only 13 states (Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin) and the District of Columbia.
• Requires school food authorities to coordinate with Summer Food sponsors on developing and distributing Summer Food outreach materials.
• Eliminates the requirement that private nonprofit Summer Food sponsors serve no more than 25 sites with no more 300 children at any of the sites unless the sponsor receives a waiver.
• Extends the California year-round Summer Food pilot until 2015 (the length of the reauthorization).
• Authorizes $20 million dollars for Summer Food Support grants for sponsors to establish and maintain programs
School Nutrition Program Provisions
Download the in-depth School Nutrition Program Provisions summary (pdf).
Supports new paperless options for universal meal service.
• Creates a new option that will allow schools in high-poverty areas to offer free meals to all students without collecting paper applications, which will expand access to more children and reduce administrative burdens on schools. The reimbursement levels will be based on the level of direct certification in each school building.
• Establishes a demonstration project to use census data to determine eligibility rates in school districts with high concentrations of low-income children.
• Establishes a three-year demonstration project in up to three school districts to use community survey data to establish eligibility rates in schools instead of paper applications.
Improves direct certification.
• Eliminates the “letter method,” which requires families to return a letter to the school to establish eligibility.
• Establishes a demonstration project to test and implement the use of Medicaid for direct certification.
• Sets performance benchmarks for direct certification and provides incentive bonuses to states that show improvement.
• Makes foster children automatically eligible for free meals, eliminating the need to complete paper applications for school meal benefits.
Enhances school nutrition quality.
• Adds a six cent performance-based increase in the federal reimbursement rate for school lunches (six cents per meal) for schools that meet forthcoming updated nutrition standards for breakfast and lunch.
• Gives the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to establish national nutrition standards for all foods sold on the school campus throughout the school day.
• Directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop model product specifications for USDA commodity foods used in school meals.
• Provides $5 million annually in mandatory funding for farm-to-school programs starting October 1, 2012.
• Strengthens Local School Wellness Policies by updating the requirements of the policies, and requiring opportunities for public input, transparency, and an implementation plan.
• Allows only lower-fat milk options to be served, as recommended in the Dietary Guidelines.
• Ensures that water is available free of charge during the meal service.
Authorizes grants for expansion of School Breakfast Programs
• Subject to available appropriations, grants could be used to establish or expand school breakfast programs, with priority going to schools with 75 percent free and reduced-price eligible students.
Includes new school food financing provisions.
• Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to provide guidance on allowable charges to school food service accounts to prevent inappropriate school expenses that are not related to the school meal programs from draining school meal resources.
• Requires a review of local policies on meal charges and the provision of alternate meals (i.e. cold cheese sandwich) to children who are without funds to purchase a meal.
Requires school districts to gradually increase their “paid” lunch charges until the revenue per lunch matches the federal free reimbursement level. This is a significant change in public policy which likely will result in decreased participation, especially among children whose household income is between 186 and 250 percent of poverty. If these families and higher-income families stop participating in the program it will create the perception that the program is only for “poor” children, causing more children to drop out. Decreases in student participation could cause schools to stop participating in the school meal programs all together. Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Provisions
Download the in-depth CACFP summary (pdf).
Promotes good nutrition, health and wellness in child care.
• Revises the nutrition standards for meals, snacks and beverages served through CACFP to make them consistent with the most recent U.S. Dietary Guidelines.
• Provides education and encouragement to participating child care centers and homes to provide children with healthy meals and snacks and daily opportunities for physical activity, and to limit screen time.
• Increases USDA training, technical assistance and educational materials available to child care providers, helping them to serve healthier food.
• Authorizes ongoing research on nutrition, health and wellness practices, as well as the barriers and facilitators to CACFP participation, in child care settings.
• Requires interagency coordination focused on strengthening the role of child care licensing in supporting good nutrition, health and wellness and maximizing the value of CACFP.
• Provides $10 million in funding to USDA for training, technical assistance and materials development.
Expands eligibility, reduces paperwork and simplifies program requirements.
• Expands eligibility by allowing the use of high school and middle school free and reduced-priced school lunch participation levels to determine Tier 1 area eligibility for family child care homes.
• Eliminates the block claim requirement completely.
• Allows providers to facilitate the return of participating children’s family income forms.
• Allows permanent operating agreements and renewable applications.
• Continues the USDA working group to reduce paperwork and improve program administration and requires USDA to report the results to Congress.
• Establishes a simplified method of determining sponsor monthly administrative funding by requiring only the number of homes multiplied by the administrative reimbursement rates calculation to determine the sponsors’ administrative reimbursements.
• Permits sponsoring organizations to carry over a maximum of 10 percent of administrative funds into the following fiscal year, which will allow sponsors more flexibility to use their funds effectively from one fiscal year to the next.
• Allows state WIC agencies to permit local WIC agencies to share WIC nutrition education materials with CACFP institutions at no cost if a written materials sharing agreement exists between the relevant agencies.
Enhances audit funds and provides protections for states and institutions.
• Allows USDA to increase the state audit funds made available to any state agency from 1.5 percent to up to a total of two percent if the state agency demonstrates that it can effectively use the funds to improve program management.
• Requires the federal-state agreement to make clear the expectation that the federal funds provided to operate the Child Nutrition Programs be fully utilized for that purpose and that such funds should be excluded from state budget restrictions or limitations, including hiring freezes, work furloughs and travel restrictions….

Of course, there are pros and cons of any legislation.

Bonnie Taub-Dix MA, RD, CDN, summarizes the issues in Hungry Vs. Healthy: The School Lunch Controversy :

The background: The new regulations released in August, which were championed by First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her “Let’s Move” campaign to fight childhood obesity, trimmed down the carbs and gave them a little color by emphasizing whole grains instead of white flour. Fruits and veggies were placed in a leading role supported by a cast of protein foods like chicken, lean meat, cheese, and so on. The calories of school lunch meals have not changed appreciably, with previous guidelines for children in grades 7 through 12 weighing in at 825 calories and the newest regs ranging from 750 to 850 calories for the same age group. What has changed significantly, however, is what’s being served.
As hard as it might be to believe, one in three American children is overweight or obese and at risk for diabetes, meaning that so many children are overfed, yet undernourished. Previous school meal standards were developed 15 years ago and didn’t meet nutritional guidelines recently established by independent health and nutrition experts. Under the watch of the Institute of Medicine and passed in December, 2010, by a bi-partisan majority in Congress, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, was enacted to provide nutritious meals to all children across America.
The Gripe: Not everyone is happy about these healthy school-lunch makeovers, as evidenced by the YouTube video. Some hungry students and teachers are claiming that they aren’t being served the calories they need—and that to compensate, they’re resorting to junk food to fill up. (Ironically, that’s a recipe for hunger: Unlike nutritious food, junk is only temporarily satisfying.) Adding more calories doesn’t mean adding more nutritional value. For some, overeating could lead to feeling listless and weak.
There are, however, kids who need more food than is being served, particularly those who participate in sports and after-school programs. For these kids, schools can structure after-school snack and supper programs. Individual students and/or sports teams can also supplement with healthy snacks brought from home. Schools also have the option to give students who need additional calories seconds of low-fat milk, fruit, and vegetables, but those are not the foods kids are requesting. Instead, they are seeking the preferred choices served in the past, which may have less to do with calories than familiarity.
The Problem: When you really weigh the difference between the calories of the old school lunch tray and the new, the bigger problem may be about giving kids the food they like, even though some of those foods, especially those that are fried and laden with unhealthy ingredients, may not like them back. Herein lies the disconnect: Our children need help in getting to a healthier place, and although science has paved the way, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to make sense of the science—especially when it comes to serving kids the foods they not only need, but they actually like.
And perhaps the problem goes way beyond school walls. Although the cafeteria can be a classroom through the introduction of healthier options, parents need to step up to the plate at home, too. The most important part a parent can play is that of role model. Setting up a salad bar at home and adding veggies to pizza are just some of the ways parents can bring home a healthier message.
The compromise: School lunch provides approximately one-third of the calories an average child needs for the day, but children who are active and fast-growing may require more than others. Although kids should have an adequate number of calories to support health and growth, it’s important to focus on the right types of calories, not just the number of calories required. In other words, we need to look at quality and quantity. It’s also unrealistic and perhaps unhealthy for kids to attempt to meet the demands of their school day, both physically and intellectually, all in one meal. Eating a balanced breakfast and including energizing snacks is key in maintaining energy levels.
Parents may need to send the right snacks with their children instead of sugary treats, which could zap their energy instead of providing it….

The challenge is getting kids to eat the food mandated by the rules and for school districts to find “kid tasty” foods which are affordable. A Child’s health is too important to be the subject of tawdry political wrangling and high pressure tactics from big money interests. Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©


USDA changes school lunch requirements

USDA backpedals on healthy school-lunch rules

National School Lunch Program Fact Sheet


School dinner programs: Trying to reduce the number of hungry children

School lunches: The political hot potato

The government that money buys: School lunch cave in by Congress

Do kids get enough time to eat lunch?

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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