Federal school lunch rules not so easy to swallow for some Derry officials
DERRY - Federal guidelines requiring students to eat healthier lunches may end up leaving kids hungrier than they should be, according to several people in the school district.
In order to receive federal reimbursement that amounts to six cents per meal, school districts must meet certain requirements in regards to portion size and the types of foods that are served.
However, according to school district business manager Jane Simard, the FDA requirements have led to smaller portion sizes and foods that some students do not like or eat as much of.
"I think we do a good job here and (the federal government) should leave it to local control that we can put out healthy meals students want to eat, because if they are not eating them, that defeats the purpose," said Simard.
School Board Chairman Brenda Willis has been especially frustrated with the federal guidelines and the impact it has had on school lunches this year.
She said a parent recently approached her and said her son was coming home hungry because the schools were limiting the amount of food he could eat.
"They are giving him food he doesn't like and he is throwing it away," said Willis. "This has been my concern all along. I know it is driven by the federal government."
Superintendent Laura Nelson said she understands the concerns expressed by Willis and some parents.
"As the mother of a son, I can relate to a child coming home who had a school lunch but didn't have enough to eat," she said.
Nelson said students can get extra portions or additional side items if they pay for them.
"If parents are concerned that their children are hungry, I recommend that they contact their child's teacher," said Nelson. She said the teachers and the food services department would be happy to work with the parents to see how they can get additional food if they need it.
"If children are coming home hungry, that's a problem," Nelson said.
Willis said it doesn't make sense that students have to buy extra food if they are not getting enough to eat.
Simard said she agreed with Willis' concerns.
"Isn't it the point of the food services program to feed all the kids and make sure they don't go home hungry?" she asked.
She said the food services department is working to the best of its ability under the regulations to provide healthy meals that the students also enjoy.
"It really puts food services in a sticky situation," she said. "They do the best they can and make nice, new healthy dishes that comply with the number of grains and everything else that has to be on the plate."
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John Forrest said:
This is what happens when we prostitute ourselves for the almighty federal dollar. The federal school lunch program is nothing more than another program to addict us to the bucks. It takes away the parental responsibility to feed and take care of our children. Having worked in a school, I personally saw that the free school lunch program helped students, but it allowed the parents to abdicate their resonsibility to feed their own kids. While their kids got free lunch, snacks and possibly even a breakfast, ma and pa had plenty of money for booze and butts and even family pets. Get the federal government out of our schools and we'll have much more time to teach rather than follow all the onerous regulations.
March 18, 2013 5:27 am
Jim Peschke said:
John, we're not even talking dollars, we're talking pennies! Federal government takes our money, then promises to give a fraction back if we do as they say. Great way to skirt the separation of powers. Schools need to be able to say "no thanks" without losing the money the town gave Uncle Barry in the first place. At six cents per meal, the Derry board should tell DC to pound sand. A nice photo of the town giving DC the finger would make a great statement to go along with the refusal letter.
March 18, 2013 12:40 pm
Dana Iverson said:
School is not a restaraunt, you go there to learn, if the parents are so bent on their child not coming home from school hungry then mabe they should make them take a lunch with their favorite foods and send it with them. Since when is it the school's problem if your kid doesn't like the food they serve. Oh, or is that an entitlement to be served your favorite dish every school day. Brown bag it kiddo's, Pretty simple.
March 18, 2013 1:43 pm
David Shaughnessy said:
Exactly Dana!!! I remember not long ago when something was put down in front of me I ate it. That was the rule of the house, and if I didn't like it..I went hungry. The same went for school or anywhere else I was. These kids are so spoiled rotten its not even funny. My own daughter included. However, when she is at my house she eats what I make. I cook healthy meals not chicken nuggets and hot dogs like she gets elsewhere and if she don't like it she can pound sand. That is what everyone should be teaching kids..be thankful for what you have, and that you have food on the table. But nope we live in a society where little johhny and lisa get whatever they want when they want. Its a school lunch as stated above..you don't like it..brown bag it. As for 6 cents..tell the feds to shove it where the sun don't shine.
March 18, 2013 3:38 pm
Jim Peschke said:
Dana and David, good points both. Thinking back, my first grade school didn't even have lunches. We HAD to brown bag. Every so often they would have "hamburger day", where we would get burgers brought in. We didn't starve, and these little darlings won't starve either. It would also do away with the whole breakfast scam too.
March 19, 2013 9:28 pm
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