“Healthy” School Lunch Program Spurned


After many kids have spurned the National School Lunch Program, changes brought about by Michelle Obama’s 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, many school districts are jumping ship from the $11 billion program too because of the loss in revenue.

While some might say that the new guidelines are better for students at the schools that participate in the program, the end client of the program is not the school, which gets to decide the menu for the end client, but the kids. In some situations, such as in a prison, that model works; but students have options, and they have exercised them to protest the program. Here is a very good article that I found on the subject of economics, which references “Orange Is the New Black,” one of my favorite shows, and which explains that business model, and why the business model of a captive end user is becoming more and more unsuccessful.

While some students are glad for the healthier content of school food, which includes more grains, vegetables, and fruits, a common complaint among the students is that the portion sizes, and caloric content of the meals are too small.

This has led, as the law of unintended consequences dictates, to some students buying food off campus, because what is offered at the school cafeteria is not palatable to them. In many cases, there are no restaurants that offer healthy choices within the price range of a school lunch near the campuses, or the students cannot leave campus during school hours, so some kids buy junk food at nearby convenience stores, or they simply go hungry, which affects their performance at school.

In some other schools, the students have spurned the school lunch program and its false claims of healthiness even more, and turned it into full-fledged protest movements. At a school in Kansas, students staged a “brown-bag” boycott of the program, which escalated into almost half the students bringing their own lunch to school. Craig Idacavage, the principal of St. Mark’s, in Colwich, expressed concern over his students’ welfare by saying “they come to school at 8:30 and some of them have practice until close to 5:30… and this could be the only meal they get, so it’s really tough.”

In December, the regulations of the program were changed by the Agriculture Department to allow for larger amounts of meat and grains; but the calorie caps were not raised. This has left many active teens in the lurch. At Wallace County High, In Sharon Springs, Kansas the students made a video spoof of the song “We Are Young,” except that they retitled it “We Are Hungry.”

Chrysanne Grund, mother of Callahan Grund, the student that orchestrated the aforementioned video spoof said “I was quite literally panicked about how we would get enough food in these kids during the day…so we resorted to packing lunches most days.”

To some school districts, the cost of these practices by their students is more than they can afford, so they have decided to jump ship from the federal program. At this point, only 1% of school districts polled informally over the summer said they were planning to dump the federal school lunch program; but a more telling picture of the situation is how much it is costing certain school districts to prepare food that students will not buy. In Voorheesville, New York, Teresa Thayer Snyder, superintendent of schools in that district has admitted that the federal lunch program lost $30,000 dollars in the first three months of its implementation. Other districts have ended up around $100,000 in debt after a full year of following Michelle Obama’s pipe dream.

Until the Federal School Lunch Program adopts standards that are truly healthy, it is doomed to be spurned by its end users, and to ultimately fail.


By Milton Ruiz


My apologies to the readers of this article.  As I was writing this, a cyberattack occurred on several sites accross the internet, and the economics article I cited cannot be found.  It is very interesting, though, and I hope the original publisher can recuperate it.  I believe it was titled “Orange Is the New Green.”  And originally published by the New York Times.

Update:  It appears the artcle is up.  Again, a thousand apologies.


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3 Responses to "“Healthy” School Lunch Program Spurned"

  1. Michelle   June 19, 2015 at 11:46 am

    At least the opportunity to eat healthy is available. Change does not happen overnight. I remember almost throwing up over a cheese sandwich I ate in school. And the tasteless rectangle pizzas. Kids can make a choice to eat healthy or not and they should be given that choice. It also takes time for your tastebuds to adapt to different things.

  2. becky1129   August 28, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    When I went to school, our meals were disgusting… the “pizzas” were microwaved with film on them and were squishy. The “salsbury steaks” were chewy hamburger patties covered in some sort of gravy. I don’t think we EVER got fresh fruit or vegetables… but we usually got tater tots. Let the kids complain over their healthy berries and sandwich wraps. Kids will always complain. At least the kids who don’t have access to fruits & vegetables at home will have them now. I am happy for the changes.

    • Milton Ruiz   August 29, 2013 at 11:47 am

      The problem is that kids don’t just complain, they go off campus and lunch on cheetos and soda, or brown-bag, both of which defeat the purpose of the lunch program. This is economically untenable for many school districts.


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