A volunteer at a Houston-area elementary school who noticed some students were getting a smaller lunch of cold cheese sandwiches is digging into his own pocket to cover delinquent meal accounts so every child can get the same full lunch tray, the Associated Press reports. Kenny Thompson is a volunteer tutor and mentor at Valley Oaks Elementary in Houston. He says he asked about the lunch differences after hearing about some Utah students who lost meals because of non-payment……Read More
President Bill Clinton has stepped alongside First Lady Michelle Obama in the fight against childhood obesity by taking his message to schools, the Huffington Post reports. Speaking to Katherine Finchy Elementary School students in Palm Springs, Calif. this week, Clinton spoke of creating healthier campuses with better food and more opportunities for physical activity in the fattest country in the world. Coachella Valley Schools are among 15,000 across the country who have joined on to the Alliance For A Healthier Generation, a partnership between the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association that seeks to combat childhood obesity in America through social change……Read More
An increasingly cozy alliance between companies that manufacture processed foods and companies that serve the meals is making students—a captive market—fat and sick while pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars in profits, the New York Times reports. At a time of fiscal austerity, these companies are seducing school administrators with promises to cut costs through privatization. Parents who want healthier meals, meanwhile, are outgunned. Each day, 32 million children in the United States get lunch at schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program, which uses agricultural surplus to feed children. About 21 million of these students eat free or reduced-price meals, a number that has surged since the recession. The program, which also provides breakfast, costs $13.3 billion a year. Sadly, it is being mismanaged and exploited……Read More
Who hasn’t had their share of cold pizza for breakfast? But for high school students across Florida, their 9:30 a.m. meal is no makeshift breakfast from last night’s leftovers–it’s lunch time, the Huffington Post reports. At least 60 schools in Florida have received waivers from the Florida Department of Education to bypass a federal mandate requiring schools to serve lunch between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.–so they can offer the midday meal as early as 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. And the cafeteria doesn’t serve breakfast food for “lunch” at the early hour–offerings are the same as if students were eating in the middle of the day: burgers, fries, taco salads, barbecue subs, pepperoni and cheese sandwiches……Read More
The L.A. Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday voted to stop providing chocolate or strawberry-flavored milk in school cafeterias as of July 1, the Los Angeles Times reports. The move makes L.A. the largest school system in the nation to pull flavored milks out of schools and is part of a larger push to make the food served at school more nutritious. L.A. Unified earlier banned sodas sales at schools……Read More
Some student food favorites are under attack in Washington, NPR reports. The Agriculture Department has released new standards for school nutrition and published them for public comment. Speaking right up are lobbyists for the food industry. The standards, the first new version since 1994, would limit starchy vegetables to two servings a week. That guideline covers corn, peas, lima beans and a hot item in the serving line–french fries……Read More
According to Reuters, state agencies will get more federal funding to provide fresh fruits and vegetables at schools, the Department of Agriculture announced on Wednesday. The $48 million increase in funding for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program represents a 40 percent increase since last fiscal year.
“Improving the health and nutrition of our kids is a national imperative and by providing schools with fresh fruits and vegetables that expand their healthy options, we are helping our kids to have a brighter, healthier future,” a USDA statement quoted Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as saying…
Beef jerky, Rice Krispie treats and four varieties of Mazzio’s pizza are a few of the À la carte choices in the lunchroom at Jenks High School outside Tulsa, Okla., where football is king and the players have royal appetites. But those items, plus the one-pint cartons of whole chocolate milk beloved by many players – average weight on the offensive line is 250 lb. – could be gone now that the federal government has issued new restrictions on fat and sodium offered during the school day, reports Time…”Just a typical unfunded mandate,” sighs Jenks principal Mike Means as he contemplates guidelines predicted to cost schools an extra 14 cents per lunch – of which the feds will pay only 6 cents. Washington hopes that school districts will get more creative in controlling expenses and menu planning. Principal Means thinks kids about to enter the real world need to learn how to make choices on their own–without the government breathing down their gullet. Do they want a slice of pepperoni pizza or a healthier serving of turkey-pepperoni pie? All of this is looming because the U.S. Department of Agriculture in January proposed sweeping new nutrition standards for school lunches: limiting French fries and starch to one cup per week, lowering calorie limits and sodium levels, replacing whole milk with skim or 1% and mandating leafy greens and red and orange veggies like squash. The rules will affect some 30 million lunches served in America each school day. Next on the USDA’s target list: À la carte items and so-called competitive foods–like the Mazzio’s and Arby’s available in the Jenks cafeteria and the Donatos pizza being served at high schools in Columbus, Ohio……Read More
The House of Representatives passed on Thursday and sent to President Barack Obama a bill that boosts funding for the school lunch program by $4.5 billion through 2020 and bans “junk” food from school buildings, Reuters reports. Backers said it would be the first real increase in reimbursement rates for schools in 30 years and a step toward healthier meals. Obama was expected to sign the bill, which the Senate passed in August. The House passed the bill 264-157 on a party-line vote. Republicans said it cost too much and that Democrats want to renege on cuts in the food-stamp program for the poor that largely pay for the bill.
“I hope this doesn’t foreshadow what is in store in the next Congress,” said Democrat George Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. Republicans will be the majority in the session that opens in January. When he took office, Obama suggested an increase of $1 billion a year as part of a campaign to end childhood hunger by 2015. Congress postponed work for a year because of funding shortages. In the end, it scaled back a recession-fighting increase in food stamp benefits to pay for the bill…
Congress is poised to give President Barack Obama–along with his wife, Michelle –a congressional victory as the House takes up legislation to push greasy foods off the school lunch line and sugary drinks out of vending machines, the Associated Press reports. The president met with liberal Democrats Tuesday in a last minute push to unite his party in support of a $4.5 billion child nutrition bill that would improve lunches in schools and expand feeding programs for low-income students. Many Democrats signaled opposition to the legislation in September because it is partially paid for with cuts in future funding for food stamps. But several of them have now said they will support the bill after the Republican victories in the November elections. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., was one Democrat who came around after meeting with Obama Tuesday. The White House has said it will find other vehicles to restore the food stamp cuts……Read More