BOSTON – Many school districts are realizing compliance with the federal school lunch rules championed by First Lady Michelle Obama are proving to be very expensive.
So instead of losing more money, they’re slimming down menus and getting creative with meal definitions.
Boston Public Schools will soon be “reducing the variety and number of offerings” as a way to curb rising costs, much to the chagrin of students, parents and even some school employees.
The district will also be eliminating some hot breakfast days and instead offer cold breakfasts only.
The “vegetarian” option on the breakfast menu will be a bowl of Cocoa Puffs and two pieces of fruit.
Boston schools will also “rarely” serve lunch entree dishes, instead offering peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, hamburgers, meatball subs, and grilled cheese and cold-cut sandwiches. Students will be allowed to choose two or three of the offerings.
“I’m so disappointed to hear that decreasing the nutritional value of school lunch by limiting choices and variety to ultimately offering more chicken nuggets, hamburgers, pizza, and hot dogs is under consideration,” parent Stephanie Shapiro Berkson said at a recent school board meeting, according to the Boston Globe.
Boston school administrators are less concerned about serving meals students are interested in eating and instead, are looking at the bottom line.
“If you have fewer choices, you gain more efficiencies in ordering,” says Naveen Reddy, the school system’s director of business improvement.
And they insist all meals – including the Cocoa Puffs and Trix cereals – will comply with the federal regulations limiting fat, sodium and sugar content.
Boston’s school lunch program was on track to lose $4 million this year, but cut that number down to a project $2.3 million thanks to a hiring freeze “and other measures,” the paper reports.
Nonprofit Quarterly notes the program – governed by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 – is up for reauthorization in September.
“House Republicans have tucked a provision into the agriculture spending bill currently winding its way through Congress that would allow any school cafeteria that lost money for six straight months to ask for a one-year reprieve from the new standards,” the site reports.
Meanwhile, students across America continue to tweet their paltry school lunches.
— Estrella Avila (@estrellaaviilaa) March 17, 2015
— Elena Marilee (@ElenaMarilee) March 14, 2015
— KP (@katherine_pratt) March 12, 2015
— Ker (@McMahon_42) March 12, 2015