Not only do students dislike and waste nearly all of the lunch that has come about since Michelle Obama’s “healthy lunches” program, everyone from parents to cafeteria staff are fed up with it. In fact, some children have gone as fair to say her healthy inspired lunches “taste like vomit”.
In an effort to provide children with healthier lunches that are in line with the latest federal dietary guidelines, established in 2010 and headed by First Lady Michelle Obama, many schools are involved with programs such as the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. Such programs are funded by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, designed to move away from unhealthy, commonly served meals such as French-bread pizza, tater tots, and chocolate milk and, instead, serve smaller portions, complex carbohydrates, along with more fruits and vegetables.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that “national polls… show nearly 80 [percent] of Americans support better nutrition standards for all food sold in schools,” but it’s apparent that the poll didn’t include what the students themselves thought.
People might be glad that schools are serving healthier lunches, but they aren’t the ones eating them. Just because schools are serving healthier options doesn’t mean that such foods are consumed by the students, something that is drawing concern for many health-focused officials.
Food Service Director Ella Mae Fenlong, of New York Schools, says that it’s so bad that many students throw away the food before they even take it to the table.
“We throw away a ton of food. If we cut up 20 pounds of cucumbers, we guess that 17 pounds get thrown away. I’ve watched kids take their cup of vegetables or fruit they’re required to take and just throw it away. A football player isn’t getting full on seven chicken nuggets, and a lot of our students who play sports are here till 6:30 p.m. The kids can buy extra food, but a lot of kids can’t afford to.”
Canton Central School Business Manager Judy A. Rienback agrees that the new lunches are not working. She says that, ever since the healthier school meals were implemented at the start of the 2013-14 school year, lunch sales have dropped 10 percent. “Our purchase costs haven’t fallen. What we serve now tends to cost more,” she said.
“Yes, it has hurt us. Less people participate and healthy foods cost more.”
Students have taken to social media, including Twitter, to express their discontent. Many sarcastically post pictures of food with the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama, while others come right out and say that she’s “ruined their life.” One student tweeted, “Michelle Obama is single-handedly ruining my life by changing school lunch and the vending machines.”
Another wrote, “Smuggling junk food in my purse to school because there’s only healthy food in the vending machines.”
While it’s certainly hyperbolic that healthy food is ruining someone’s life, it is a problem that so much time, effort, money, and food is wasted on a failing initiative.
There’s no question that something must change, since child obesity rates are soaring. Clearly, the answer is not the food we are providing children at school, however.