ROGERS, Ark. – The garbage cans are becoming morbidly obese at Rogers High School.
“We’re feeding trash cans a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables,” Robin Kinder, president of the Arkansas School Nutrition Association and assistant child nutrition director for Springdale Public Schools, tells NWAonline.com.
In addition to changing the lunch menu to make it “healthier,” the school sends students back into the line if they fail to take the required fruits and vegetables mandated by the overhaul of the National School Lunch Program.
“It would just go straight to the trash sometimes,” Estefany Corleto, a junior at Rogers High School, says of the foods students are required to take. “I think it was just a waste of food.”
The paper reports after the new regulations took effect, school leaders “could hear a steady ‘thump’ as the students discarded the food in the trash cans just outside the doors to the serving area.”
Kinder says requiring a salad “puts negative peer pressure” on students who might have taken it if they didn’t have to.
According to Kinder, low-sodium and low-fat foods weren’t developed with kids’ tastes in mind.
The low-sodium mashed potatoes, for example, were roundly rejected.
“I have never seen children throw mashed potatoes away,” she says.
Gone, too, is the Frito pie, which was a favorite. The chips had too much salt and weren’t whole grain.
Pickles can only be served with “certain meals.”
But the school is still serving french fries as the potatoes count as a vegetable.
Schools had to “file paperwork” to see relief from the whole wheat requirement.
School leaders are worried as they see costs going up and participation – that is, sales – going down.
“When the kids eat the meal we get paid for it. When the kids don’t eat the meal we don’t get paid,” says Margie Bowers, food services director for Rogers Public Schools.
“It may be a year, it may be a couple years before these programs have to go to the school board and say ‘Hey, we need you to bail out the program,'” Diane Pratt-Heavner, a spokeswoman for the School Nutrition Association, tells the news site.
“A few of the rules just go too far too fast,” Pratt-Heavner says.