Students in a rural Kentucky county — and their parents — are the latest to join a growing national chorus of scorn for the healthy school lunches touted by first lady Michelle Obama.
“They say it tastes like vomit,” said Harlan County Public Schools board member Myra Mosley at a contentious board meeting last week, reports The Harlan Daily Enterprise.
The growing body of USDA meal regulations implemented by the Department of Agriculture under the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010″ has long been a signature issue for the first lady.
Denizens of Harlan County don’t much care, though. Their primary concern at the board meeting was a bevy of complaints that local children are starving at lunch — and for the remainder of the school day — because the food on offer in the cafeteria is crappy and there isn’t nearly enough of it.
“Kids can’t learn when they’re hungry!” parents shouted to the board, according to the Enterprise.
Other gripes involved the new bread, which students don’t want to eat because it’s brown wheat bread, and the new milk, which is skim or one percent fat, not two percent or whole. The cafeteria’s chocolate- and strawberry-flavored milk offerings are now nonfat.
Jack Miniard, the school district’s director of school and community nutrition, was on hand to explain that the federal government now governs both food choices and portion sizes in most American school districts including Harlan County.
Under the National School Lunch Program, participating schools must provide lunches — including free or reduced price lunches — with minimum amounts of fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and whole grains. Also, in what presumably falls outside the hunger-free aspect of the act, there’s a calorie cap: 850 for high school lunches, 700 for middle schools and a mere 650 calories for kids in elementary school.
Students can only have one serving of meat or other protein. However, rich kids can buy a second portion each day on their own dime.
Servings of carbohydrates such as potatoes are limited to just a single serving of three-fourths of a cup per student.
On the plus side, students can eat as many fruits and vegetables as they want.
Across the country, students and parents have expressed dissatisfaction with the federal government’s new food regime. Some wealthier suburban school districts are simply backing out of the National School Lunch Program, though doing so can mean giving up a six-figure annual subsidy for the district. (RELATED: First lady-backed school lunch regs cost school district $100,000)