Michelle Obama has said that school children should be served fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in school lunches (reducing calories significantly) so that they can be ready to learn.
But students in California, Illinois, New York, and Kentucky are refusing to eat these healthy meals and reports say they are too hungry to learn.
Schools are saying students are not eating these healthy meals and a lot of the food is thrown away, causing the school to lose money on this plan.
Did we change school menus too much and too fast?
I noticed changes that were positive at my former school cafeteria. Students had to take an item from each food group. There was always a fresh fruit or vegetable option. Low fat dressings for salad. Whole wheat buns used for grilled chicken patties (not quite sure if those were 100% chicken or not). Even the ala carte line was changed to include baked snacks and reduced fat items. There was a 'refusal bin' where items not wanted could be placed for other students. Anything left that was still usable, such as a container of orange juice, was to be taken to a local food bank. I noticed an increase of bagged lunches at the middle school level.
I like healthy food offerings. I like the 'refusal bin' option. I like that usable items are taken to a food bank. We need to keep trying. This is creative thinking. If kids are hungry they will eat what is offered.
Our librarian used to sell candy before school, after lunch, after school. She had a pop vending machine installed to make better use of her time. All of this was done in the name of buying technology for the library.
Under duress she stopped selling candy, protesting that students would just stop by the 7/11 and buy it before school. She had the pop vending machine restocked with juices. Sales plummeted.
What happened? She went back to selling candy and restocked the vending machine with pop. All in the name of buying technology for the library.
What is that technology worth today? Nothing. What is the health of those students worth today? Priceless.
I know that funding is such that folks have to make "choices" in order to purchase what they perceive is a need for the school. However, folks can think outside of the box. We had students donate $1 to wear a hat for a day , since wearing hats in school is not allowed in the code of conduct. Almost every student (860) contributed for this 'privilege' and about 50 adults. I've seen schools offer "dress down" tickets for a Friday. The Library at your school could host a 'read a thon' with students contributing for the opportunity to read for an uninterrupted hour. Depending on the school population, this would be successful. Another school held a "change for technology" once a month and parents in the car loop chipped in loose change. A container at the front counter allowed others to contribute. You are right that educators should be helping to set an example for students, parents too. Health of all is something worth protecting.
I just saw a news account of a school in Virginia that has instituted a new policy of 'throwing away' a student's lunch if they have no money in their account. Apparently this school district was $50000 in the hole for lunch account abuse. But to literally take the lunch from the student at the cash register and toss it? Wow!