New School Lunch Regs, One “Hot Potato”!

The national school lunch program is becoming onehot potato” of an issue!  I deliberately chose to use the word “one” as much of the changes revolve around limiting the portion size, especially of meat, offered through the school lunch program.  In her blog post this week, Missouri pork producer Chris Chinn describes it as a One Size, Fits All Lunch Program.

Chris is not alone in her concern.  Even school hot lunch managers are concerned.  Here’s a comment one area hot lunch manager posted on my Facebook page:

Oh, you sure hit a sore spot with me. It just me over two weeks to formulate a menu that usually takes less than two hours, and I have Middle School and Elementary ages to go.  The meat allowance for students in grades 9-12 is 2 ounces.  I can hardly wait until some of my older kids come through the lunch line on the first day and can’t find the meat on their sub sandwich!  Our schools have always served at least 1 fruit and 1 vegetable a day. We can serve it, but we can’t make them eat it!  And now I’m adding more fruits and vegetables, but I’m sure there won’t be a rush for Garbanzo beans, black beans and kidney beans.  Get this… lettuce and dressing must fit into the calorie ranges.

Area superintendents met recently with the Franklin County Farm Bureau board. From left to right are: Darrin Strike, West Fork; Todd Lettow, Hampton-Dumont; Dwight Widen, CAL Community; and Bob Weber, AGWSR.

How long will a 2-ounce portion of meat satisfy a 240-pound football player, who has already been at school for hours and has to attend practice right after school?  The above-mentioned hot lunch manager goes on to write that she’s concerned about the number kids that will go hungry thanks – ironically – in part to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.  She encourages concerned citizens and interested parents to contact their congressman.  She emphatically writes, “School cooks need all the help they can get to get back to basic cooking!!!!”

Even school administrators are concerned about the new regulations.  Last Thursday a group of area superintendents met with the Franklin County Board of Directors.  When talking about school food, one of the supers confessed that he takes his lunch break in his office where he can use his own “secret” salt shaker.  He said the food is so bland that he couldn’t tolerate to eat it otherwise.

Another super said that the “Food Gestapo” stopped in and checked their food last year.  His school failed the inspection, and one reason was because that particular school added too much salt to the food.  They all agreed that there will be major problems with the program.

As classes resume, I’m sure we’ll hear even more “school lunch stories.”  You can be sure that I haven’t written my last word about it either.  To be continued…