The federal government’s attempt to force public school students to eat “healthier” lunches is falling apart at the seams.
Most recently, the School Nutrition Association – which initially championed the new federal lunch standards on fruits, vegetables, salt, fat, sugar and virtually every other aspect of school lunches when they were implemented in 2012 – is now lobbying Congress to dial back the “overly prescriptive” and expensive changes, the New York Times News Service reports.
SNA officials rightly point out that many students are throwing away the additional fruits and vegetables included in their lunches, amounting to $684 million in food waste every year – or roughly “enough to serve complete reimbursable school lunches to more than 228 million students,” according to the Times.
The association contends the “nutritious” federal lunch menu is also proving costly for many school districts that are now forced to purchase more expensive foods to comply with the new regulations.
SNA reportedly first expressed concerns about the new federal regulations in 2011, and later met with Agriculture Department officials, but have been largely ignored. That prompted SNA leaders to call on Congress instead, and they have now targeted the group’s lobbying efforts at lawmakers in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, which are considering legislation to waive the nutrition standards for next school year, according to the Times news service.
“SNA saw the appropriations process as the only way of providing our members immediate relief,” Diane Pratt-Heavner, SNA spokeswoman, told the Times.
The SNA’s 180 on the school nutrition standards directly conflicts with other nutrition groups, teachers unions and parent-teacher organizations that want to press forward with the federal lunch regulations regardless of the impact on students or schools.
First Lady Michelle Obama, the top cheerleader for the “healthier” lunches, as well as numerous past presidents of the SNA have urged Congress not to delay the new lunch rules. Meanwhile, an increasing number of local school districts are opting out of the federal lunch program because of lost revenue tied to the food restrictions. In other words, many schools are losing more in lunch sales because of the federal regulations than they receive in subsidies from the government to provide the food.
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