No such thing as a free lunch (or a good-tasting one either)

Monday, July 15, 2013
Bob Kellogg (

Another school has joined the ranks of those refusing to serve the fare of the new, federal lunch overhaul being promoted by First Lady Michelle Obama.

New York's Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district is the latest in a growing list of schools to opt out of the National School Lunch Program, citing "hungry (and) frustrated children plus lost income."

Kyle Olson of the Education Action Group has been investigating this trend, which he says creates a “whole new set of problems” for schools that participate.

"It just shows that when you've got these sorts of mandates coming from Washington, DC, it just creates more problems for local communities," he says.


News website The Daily Caller reported the New York school district lost $100,000 in sales to students when it participated in the First Lady-backed Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act.

“Students complained of being hungry with these lunches and the district lost money,” Assistant Superintendent Chris Abdoo said in a statement. “I’m confident we can do better on our own next year.”

The National School Lunch Program is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

According to Olson, smaller portions, less meat and unpopular vegetables are leaving kids hungry, which is affecting their performance in school.

Teachers are complaining that students are distracted, especially later in day, and coaches are reporting students show up hungry for athletic practices, he says.

Such accounts were documented in a federal Goverment Accountability Office report that was written after GAO employees visited eight public school districts. 

Starting this fall, the lunch program will be mandatory for schools receiving federal funds for food. Nonetheless, Olson believes many more districts nationwide will be dumping the program.

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