The School Nutrition Association, a professional organization representing about 55,000 school food service employees nationwide, has called on Congress to make dramatic changes to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, the deeply unpopular 2010 legislation that restricts school lunches.
The School Nutrition Association released a position paper last week on the complex body of meal regulations long championed by Michelle Obama, EAGnews.org reports.
The group’s “2015 Position Paper” criticizes the complex legislation, under which participating schools take federal money but must stringently limit the amount of sugar, fat and sodium in every morsel of food sold at schools. Also, in what presumably falls outside the hunger-free aspect of the act, there are unforgiving calorie caps.
The paper is damning.
“USDA data shows that since the new rules were implemented, 1.4 million fewer children choose school lunch each day,” the School Nutrition Association explains. “Declining student participation reduces meal program revenue for schools already stressed by higher food and labor costs under the new regulations.”
The first lady’s signature program is a huge, embarrassing waste of national and local resources, the group argues.
“USDA estimates the new rules add $1.2 billion to the cost of preparing school meals in Fiscal Year 2015 alone,” the group also says. “As a result, only half of school meal program operators anticipate their programs will break even at the end of this school year, according to a recent SNA survey.”
“SNA supports strong federal nutrition standards for school meals, including calorie caps and mandates to offer a greater quantity and variety of fruits and vegetables,” School Nutrition Association CEO Patricia Montague said.
“However, some of the USDA’s regulations under the law have unnecessarily increased costs and waste for school meal programs and caused many students to swap healthy school meals for junk food fare.”
Some school districts — particularly wealthier ones — have opted out of the healthy-lunch regime and the federal dollars that come with it.
Fancypants private schools, such as Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., which first daughters Malia and Sasha attend, are not affected by the federal school lunch regime. (RELATED: The School Lunches Malia And Sasha Eat Vs. The Crap Michelle Obama Has Foisted On America)
The School Nutrition Association has several proposals for Congress. Among them are calls for Congress to revert back to 2010 standards in certain aspects and for more leeway for allowing kids to consume a la carte food items.
The healthy school lunches touted by the first lady have never been popular. (RELATED: Kentucky Students To First Lady Michelle Obama: Your Food ‘Tastes Like Vomit’)
Congress is expected to reauthorize the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act — or not — later this year.