New federal guidelines on school lunches are changing how students eat during the school day.
Under the Dietary Guidelines for American’s, school lunches are now required to have age-aligned calorie maximums, capping the amount of calories high school students eat to around 850. Tri-Valley school district has reworked its lunch menu to accommodate the new rules but it’s coming at a cost to the school.
"While we support the idea of feeding students healthy food I think there are a lot of unintended consequences, which is common when new legislation pass, we’re starting to realize what a lot of us suspected might happen and that is primarily the lunch count has been reduced significantly," said Tri-Valley School District Superintendent, Mark Neal.
School lunch counts at Tri-Valley are down almost thirty percent since the regulations passed. With two federally mandated price increases, the district is paying more for lunches that few students want to eat.
"We’re serving less food for more money. Well that doesn’t affect the free and reduced lunch population so much but it does affect the people who aren’t in that situation and those are the people that we notice the greatest reduction in purchasing lunch," said Neal.
Superintendent Neal believes the legislation will ultimately force more students to pack their lunch, further declining the number of lunches purchased through the school.
While the changes may seem like a step in a healthier direction, not all students are finding them tasty. "I understand the whole thing of trying to be healthy about it and everything. They’ve decreased in taste but they’re trying to look out for our health," said Senior Daniel Sensabaugh. Freshman Christian Nezbeth packs his own lunch and says, "They look pretty good, they’re a lot more healthy it looks like, I haven’t really seen what they looked like before but they don’t look that bad, they look pretty good." "I don’t like the whole no salt idea, because I like everything with salt but they are really healthy and stuff. I’m not a big of them, I guess," said Junior Andrew Ritchey. The new restrictions all come from the updated Dietary Guidelines For Americans from the U.S. Department Of Agriculture and are funded by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2012-legislation promoted by Michelle Obama.