SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – After two years of struggle, Schalmont High School is giving up on trying to make the “healthier” National School Lunch Program work.
“I definitely like the food better this year,” Schalmont High School student Rachel Dicocco tells CBS 6.
“Portion sizes were a lot smaller, you know, things just weren’t as good,” another student Noah Baker says.
“We basically lost $10,000 to $15,000 a year,” according to Schalmont schools nutritional director Marcy vonMaucher.
To stem the financial loss, the high school is opting out of the program and foregoing the federal reimbursements.
But staying in would have been worse.
“I would have easily lost 40%. That is how restrictive the a la cart rules [are,]” vonMaucher says.
They aren’t alone.
The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District, the Vooheersville Central School District and Bethlehem High School – all in New York – saw a decline in the number of students buying school lunch so they opted out as well, according to the news station.
But Denver Public Schools’ Theresa Hafner thinks there shouldn’t be any opt outs – or “free passes” as she calls them.
“I don’t want us to roll back the progress we’ve made,” she says, according to Public News Service.
But then she makes a curious admission:
“We’re doing good things. It’s interesting to read that kids are more and more obese. I don’t think school lunch is making them that way, but I think we need to model the way forward.” (emphasis added)
Both Hafner and Michael Booth of the Colorado Health Foundation tell the news site there’s a bigger point to Michelle Obama’s overhaul.
Booth’s research indicates “many Colorado school systems are finding ways to meet nutrition standards, and act as a ‘lever’ in the effort to improve the health of the state.
“We shouldn’t try to shame people into choosing or eating better food,” Booth says. “There are bigger policy levers out there that policy makers can use to improve the food system for everyone.”
But many schools aren’t interested in social engineering.
They more interested in balancing budgets and local control and therefore are dropping out of the federal program.