School lunches are shrinking in public schools across the nation due to regulations enforced by the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act of 2010.
The new regulations require more fruits and vegetables, but for the first time they also mandate a calorie count for lunch. (The new calorie count for K-5 is 550 to 650, the calorie count for grades 6-8 is 600 to 700, and the calorie count for grades 9-12 is 750 to 850.)
Ethel Buckley, in charge of the Colville school food service, said that she is struggling to enforce the new regulations. While having to adhere to USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) portion regulations, she must also include the calorie count.
â€śIâ€™m finding it hard to get all the grains and breads in there while still keeping my calories down where they need to be,â€ť said Buckley. She also said that other districts are frustrated with the new regulations. Over 53 pages of comments asking how to enforce the regulations were submitted to OSTI.
â€śWeâ€™re all having a hard time meeting the requirements,â€ť said Buckley.
While schools are attempting to enforce the new regulations, some of the students across the nation are in rebellion against the new calorie count. A high school in Wallace County, KS made a YouTube parody called â€śWe are Hungryâ€ť based on the song â€śWe are Youngâ€ť by the band â€śFunâ€ť in order to protest the new regulations. The YouTube video has received over 850,000 hits. The actors of the video pretend to be starving from the new regulationsâ€”athletes are falling down during practice, kindergarten children are army crawling through the halls, and students are unable to lift their heads from their desks. Some of the lyrics of the parody read, â€śTonight, we are hungry. Set the policy on fire. It can burn brighter than the sun.â€ť (The music video is located at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IB7NDUSBOo.)
Though Kansas students are claiming to be hungry, Colville students have not begun to feel the full effects of the new requirements. Ethel Buckley used inventory on hand for the month of September, and has not started to enforce the full requirements of the Healthy, Hungry-Free Act.
Despite her frustrations with the calorie count requirements, Buckley has not had to implement a lot of changes to her menu as far as fruits and vegetables are concerned. Buckley says that the new requirements enforcing more fruits and vegetables have already been included in the Colville School District menus.
â€śWe have had salad bars in all of our schools for several years now, so weâ€™re kind of in front of the trend more than other districts,â€ť said Buckley. Even though Colville schools are in front of the health trend, the new regulations are a problematic addition to the menu according to Buckley.
Michael Cashion, superintendent of Colville schools, also commented on the new requirements at the monthly Colville School Board meeting.
â€śWhen you get federal into something so common sense it becomesâ€”interesting,â€ť Cashion said.
Will the new changes last? Buckley doubts that the regulations will be enforced for long.
â€śI feel like the government does not always think things through . . . before they implement them. I am willing to bet that we are going to see some changes coming again to help alleviate all of the problems [caused by the bill],â€ť said Buckley. She thinks that the government will soon have to change the new regulations.
â€śThe government is probably going to do a little bit of backtracking,â€ť said Buckley.
What exactly is a 750 to 850 calorie meal?
World Famous Fries 230
Dr. Pepper 150
Total Calories: 740
Ground Beef Burrito 540
Small Soft Drink 220
Total Calories: 760
6 inch Roast Beef Sub 320
Lays Potato Crisps 130
Apple Slices 30
Chocolate Chip Cookie 220
Milk 1% Low Fat 160
Total Calories: 860