CHICAGO – Hummus is too fatty, pretzels are too salty. Even hard-boiled eggs and yogurt don’t make the cut.
Those restrictions and others imposed on schools through the revamped “healthier” National School Lunch Program convinced officials in Illinois’ second largest school district to forfeit nearly $1 million in federal lunch aid to serve students food they want to eat, rather than what the government tells them to, CBS reports.
“So far so good. The meals, as you’ve seen, look fantastic, and there’s a lot of excitement,” District 214 Associate Superintendent Cathy Johnson told the news station as officials recently unveiled their new menu.
The federal “healthier” school lunch overhaul, championed by First Lady Michelle Obama, has been a boondoggle for public schools across the country. The tightened restrictions, intended to combat childhood obesity, have driven more than 1 million students away from school lunches and created over $1 billion per year in food waste since they were implemented in 2012.
The drastic drop-off in lunch sales is prompting an increasing number of school districts to ditch the regulations and attached federal funding to save their floundering cafeteria programs. Just this week, two other New York school districts dropped out.
District 214 administrators told CBS the unreasonable restrictions on protein, sodium and fat made preparing meals students would buy nearly impossible, while the district-inspired menu “would be far simpler,” according to Johnson.