Citing ‘Hungry, Frustrated Children,’ Another District Drops Michelle Obama’s Lunch Menu

Kyle Olson
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Posted: Jul 11, 2013 12:01 AM
Citing ‘Hungry, Frustrated Children,’ Another District Drops Michelle Obama’s Lunch Menu

If the goal of the federal school lunch overhaul is to improve outcomes for children, somebody should tell its chief cheerleader -- First Lady Michelle Obama -- that it’s actually backfiring.

Officials in New York’s Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district have become the latest to opt out of the National School Lunch Program, citing “hungry, frustrated children plus lost income.”

“[Food service manager Nicky] Boehm and her staff worked hard to implement the new regulations, but there were just too many problems and too many foods that students did not like and would not purchase. Students complained of being hungry with these lunches and the district lost money. I'm confident we can do better on our own next year,” assistant superintendent Chris Abdoo said in a news release.

The lunch program lost about $100,000 for the school year, which is roughly the cost of one teaching position.

“Students felt they weren't getting good value for their money,” Boehm said. “The high schoolers especially complained the portion sizes were too small, and many more students brought in lunch from home.”

One example provided by the district that was a “turn off” to elementary students included canned green beans and “part” of a chicken patty on a mini croissant.

This district’s action comes on the heels of the Catlin, Illinois, district doing the same. Officials there complained the federal guidelines were too “restrictive.”

The USDA -- which manages the National School Lunch Program -- has estimated it will cost school districts $3.2 billion to implement the new Michelle Obama-inspired mandates.

That’s a lot of money to spend to make sure kids go hungry at school. Don’t be surprised if many more school districts around the nation dump this program before the new semester starts in the fall.