Green Room

School districts bailing out of new federal lunch program?

posted at 7:02 pm on August 27, 2013 by

As the old adage says and every parent knows, you can lead a child to vegetables, but you can’t make him eat. After big losses in revenues as kids turn up their noses at federally-mandated nutrition, some school districts are bailing out:

After just one year, some schools around the country are dropping out of the healthier new federal lunch program, complaining that so many students turned up their noses at meals packed with whole grains, fruits and vegetables that the cafeterias were losing money.

Federal officials say they don’t have exact numbers but have seen isolated reports of schools cutting ties with the $11 billion National School Lunch Program, which reimburses schools for meals served and gives them access to lower-priced food.

Districts that rejected the program say the reimbursement was not enough to offset losses from students who began avoiding the lunch line and bringing food from home or, in some cases, going hungry.

And that didn’t help with the education part of school, either:

“Some of the stuff we had to offer, they wouldn’t eat,” said Catlin, Ill., Superintendent Gary Lewis, whose district saw a 10 to 12 percent drop in lunch sales, translating to $30,000 lost under the program last year.

“So you sit there and watch the kids, and you know they’re hungry at the end of the day, and that led to some behavior and some lack of attentiveness.”

This is a case of mandates screwing up a market.  While public school lunches are the purview of government, there isn’t any need for the federal government to be running the show.  States and local school boards should be ensuring that lunches are both nutritious and engaging enough to get students to eat properly during the day.  What’s the best way to make sure of that?  Listening to bureaucrats in Washington DC, or to parents and students in the schools? It looks like some districts are discovering that answer … the hard way.

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What’s interesting to me is how many conservative people still send their children to public schools. I’ve heard every argument under the sun about this, but if you really want to change the direction of the country, sending the next generation to government indoctrination tanks seems a bit off. Learn to love homeschooling and your kid won’t have to suffer through crap lunches and tedious progressive groupthink.

King B on August 27, 2013 at 7:11 PM

Whenever someone mentions school lunches, my memory goes back to the string-bean casserole with crumbled potato chip topping. (Yeah, it didn’t exactly make me go Pavlov, either…)

bandarlog on August 27, 2013 at 7:21 PM

What’s interesting to me is how many conservative people still send their children to public schools. ..

King B on August 27, 2013 at 7:11 PM

My three have graduated from public schools. One is somewhat apolitical but leans conservative. The other two are more conservative than me.

CW on August 27, 2013 at 7:29 PM

Learn to love homeschooling and your kid won’t have to suffer through crap lunches and tedious progressive groupthink.

King B on August 27, 2013 at 7:11 PM

My kids are home schooled, but would probably like the lunches (the girls anyway).

besser tot als rot on August 27, 2013 at 7:41 PM

Whenever someone mentions school lunches, my memory goes back to the string-bean casserole with crumbled potato chip topping. (Yeah, it didn’t exactly make me go Pavlov, either…)

bandarlog on August 27, 2013 at 7:21 PM

I remember square pizza with thousand island to dip it in. … I usually went hungry.

besser tot als rot on August 27, 2013 at 7:42 PM

What’s interesting to me is how many conservative people still send their children to public schools. I’ve heard every argument under the sun about this, but if you really want to change the direction of the country, sending the next generation to government indoctrination tanks seems a bit off. Learn to love homeschooling and your kid won’t have to suffer through crap lunches and tedious progressive groupthink.

King B on August 27, 2013 at 7:11 PM

Some parents have to work. Some kids won’t do school work for mom or dad. Some kids have disabilities that the parents aren’t equiped to deal with at home. There are many reasons conservatives don’t homeschool. As for indoctrination, I look at public school as an opportunity to teach my children critical thinking skills. We talk about what they learn at school. We look at the materials they are using. We correct what is wrong in the curriculum and get our kids thinking about the opinions the teachers offer. Learning to thing for themselves is one of the best gifts we can give our kids.
As for school lunches, no child, so far at least, is forced to buy school food. We make lunches at home which is a lesson in nutrition and budgeting.

hopeful on August 27, 2013 at 8:07 PM

The only thing wrong with the program is that parents give in and feed their children something they’ll eat when they get home. If parents would just get with the program laid out by their betters and feed the same menu at home, soon the children would be so hungry they’d just eat it, get used to it, and love it ! Problem solved. (snicker)

mdavt on August 27, 2013 at 8:31 PM

Yours is a fair point, and to each their own – good for you for going over your kid’s materials. I support complete school choice, including public/private/parochial/homeschool etc. However, I also hate that so much money goes into a system that exists to serve progressive interests while doing such a poor job of its mission of educating our children.

Many people don’t realize how new our type of schooling is. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, John Dewey, Horace Mann and other education academics heard wonders about how Germans were putting their children in public schools. American educators visited many of these schools and marveled at concepts like “kindergarten” (translated to a garden of children if memory serves), the well-behaved, well-disciplined children in their orderly classrooms.

From these men – all of them their own day’s equivalent of “elites” – has grown the progressive, depressing public schools we have today. Their express goal is to remove the children farther from the intimacy of hearth and home, and free breakfasts and lunches along with worthless HeadStart programs are doing just that.

King B on August 27, 2013 at 8:48 PM

Mine would stand up and cheer if his school opted out. The only milk they offer is non-fat, which pretty much gaurantees nobody’s going to drink it, and the rest of the menu involves as little effort as pissible.
He’s not due back til next week and already complaining about lunches.

Recon5 on August 27, 2013 at 8:55 PM

Recon5 on August 27, 2013 at 8:55 PM

I just don’t know how I ever made it to 60 with all the bad fatty stuff I was forced to endure in school and on my Army vacation.

arnold ziffel on August 27, 2013 at 9:40 PM

While public school lunches are the purview of government

Why? This whole monopoly needs to be broken up.

AshleyTKing on August 27, 2013 at 9:48 PM

ng B on August 27, 2013 at 8:48 PM

I agree with you about school choice and it kills me that my tax dollars go to support the liberal educators. We can’t afford private school and one of my kids would never do the work at home. The only choice for us is to be involved and to question the teachers on their tactics and materials when appropriate. My conservative friend ran for and won a school board seat and most of my friends are heavily involved in the PTA. Maybe in some small way our little army can make some changes in the way things are done. At the very least, the teachers in our district know we as parents won’t take the union crap without an argument. We demand better and occasionally we get it.

hopeful on August 27, 2013 at 10:05 PM

ng B on August 27, 2013 at 8:48 PM

Also, hopefully my kids will be better at critical thinking than their liberal counterparts who just marinate in the liberal brine and are never expected to think for themselves. I feel you get a better education when you have to question and challenge everything. My kids are learning fact from opinion, propaganda from teaching, and which battles are worth fighting. All skills that will make them better college students, better employees and better parents down the road.
Lemons from lemonade if you will.

hopeful on August 27, 2013 at 10:09 PM

peas.….uneaten.

News at 11

ted c on August 27, 2013 at 10:21 PM

Schools funding is being held hostage by these tyrants in the government.

tomas on August 27, 2013 at 10:29 PM

Besides the issues of funding, I get scared by the thought of government getting involved with nutrition. I’m a big believer in low-carb eating, and almost all of our meals are meat and veggies, with no shortage of eggs and cheese. What some people consider gluttonous, I consider healthy, and I’m not afraid to explain why conventional wisdom is wrong. But in some cases, schools have forced their meals on kids and not allowed parents to send lunches with their kids. It’s always government knows best.

MinnesotaSlinger on August 27, 2013 at 11:09 PM

I have a bit of previous industry experience. The regulations are very hard to follow. Liberal schools will keep feeding their kids the new regulations, but they will continue to lose money. The entire system is full of impossible rules and fraud from not being able to follow the rules. This is an area that needs reform, but liberals will scream that we are hurting the kids if we try to fix this.

ArkyDore on August 28, 2013 at 12:56 AM

While public school lunches are the purview of government, there isn’t any need for the federal government to be running the show. States and local school boards should be ensuring that lunches are both nutritious and engaging enough to get students to eat properly during the day.

This is common sense. Unfortunately all Leftists believe that federalism is “racist.” In addition to that most Leftists usually can’t seem to mentally differentiate between local, state and federal governments. In their mind, it’s all just “government.” They can’t see the difference between a local fire department and NASA. So, the waste, fraud & abuse shall continue.

visions on August 28, 2013 at 7:29 AM

Another few years of this administration and the kiddies will be begging for a few grains of rice.

trs on August 28, 2013 at 8:47 AM

I’m from South Dakota and my wife is a 6th grade public school teacher. I can assure you the liberals get no foothold in our schools.

trs on August 28, 2013 at 8:51 AM

Another few years of this administration and the kiddies will be begging for a few grains of rice.

trs on August 28, 2013 at 8:47 AM

They better not be VAD and in need of something helpful like golden rice, because the ignorant anti-human bedwetters would rather see those kids starve to death or go blind.

Murphy9 on August 28, 2013 at 8:54 AM

I agree with you about school choice and it kills me that my tax dollars go to support the liberal educators. We can’t afford private school and one of my kids would never do the work at home. The only choice for us is to be involved and to question the teachers on their tactics and materials when appropriate. My conservative friend ran for and won a school board seat and most of my friends are heavily involved in the PTA. Maybe in some small way our little army can make some changes in the way things are done. At the very least, the teachers in our district know we as parents won’t take the union crap without an argument. We demand better and occasionally we get it.

hopeful on August 27, 2013 at 10:05 PM

Do you have a local Catholic or Christian school? Most of the time — although I grant you, not always — the pastors of the associated churches see these schools as a part of their ministry, and will not deny a student the opportunity to attend based on their inability to pay. That has certainly been my experience with most religiously-affiliated schools.

And while I support the basic concept of school choice, in the sense that parents should be able to make all the decisions concerning their child’s education without government interference, I am completely opposed to even the concept of public schools. The government, and especially the federal government, should have absolutely no role in education. None.

Shump on August 28, 2013 at 9:12 AM

the rest of the menu involves as little effort as pissible.

Recon5 on August 27, 2013 at 8:55 PM

Inadvertant editorial comment on the lunches?

GWB on August 28, 2013 at 9:43 AM

What’s interesting to me is how many conservative people still send their children to public schools. I’ve heard every argument under the sun about this, but if you really want to change the direction of the country, sending the next generation to government indoctrination tanks seems a bit off. Learn to love homeschooling and your kid won’t have to suffer through crap lunches and tedious progressive groupthink.

King B on August 27, 2013 at 7:11 PM

Homeschooled 3 out of 4 all the way through elementary and high school. Still homeschooling the youngest in high school. The 4th (which was the oldest) was too much of a social butterfly and wanted to still go to public.

My son (3rd of 4th) took a lot of heat from his oldest sister (public schooled) until he beat her considerably on his ACT. Shut her up pretty quick after that. All the homeschooled kids are conservative, and very sharp.

dominigan on August 28, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Oh, and the oldest did finally come around to being a conservative when she ended up having to pay for part of her college, and had to work to do that. She finally had her conservative moment when she blew up at her liberal friend who didn’t have to pay for anything and had her parents pay for all of college!

As someone said on another thread… you become conservative when its all about your money! Handouts are the biggest challenge to recruiting other conservatives.

dominigan on August 28, 2013 at 12:34 PM

I remember square pizza with thousand island to dip it in. … I usually went hungry.

besser tot als rot on August 27, 2013 at 7:42 PM

I still remember square pizza made with the sloppy joe meat left over from the day before.

dominigan on August 28, 2013 at 12:36 PM

What’s the best way to make sure of that? Listening to bureaucrats in Washington DC

Isn’t it really ONE particular non-bureaucrat bureaucratic budinsky who should go back to her WH garden and mind her own business? Oh yeah and, since she thinks they’re so great, maybe try eating some fresh vegetables and whole grains herself!

stukinIL4now on August 28, 2013 at 5:26 PM

After just one year, some schools around the country are dropping out of the healthier new federal lunch program, complaining that so many students turned up their noses at meals packed with whole grains, fruits and vegetables that the cafeterias were losing money.

Not a problem, the totalitarian left doesn’t allow noncompliance with their wishes. Regulations and laws enforced with the complete power of the federal government will soon follow

RJL on August 28, 2013 at 6:27 PM

It isn’t just the vegetables. It is that high school athletes are being served one ham sandwich as the main course and that is supposed to be enough. Muscular, in shape young men and young women need calories to carry them through practice and games!

cptacek on August 30, 2013 at 10:21 AM