More than 60,000 Washington D.C. low-income students are refusing to eat free or reduced-price school lunches, NBC 4 News reported last night. Local school districts lose about $3 for each student each day when they refuse the lunch because the subsidy is only paid to the school district when the student goes through the lunch line. The lunches not purchased, via subsidy, by those 60,000 students incur a total loss to the school districts for $32.4 million.
The students skipping the school lunches, that are compliant with the Michelle Obama designed school lunch guidelines, include 24,000 students in Prince George's Count, 13,000 in Montgomery County, 4,000 in Federick County, 4,600 in Prince William County and 7,600 in Fairfax County. It should be noted that while these are low-income students, they are from some of the wealthier counties in the country.
The NBC 4 story attributed part of the cause of the students refusing the lunches to, “A News4 I-Team review found Washington, D.C.-area school cafeterias are also suffering from competition from nearby fast-food operations and restaurants. About a dozen local high schools allow “open-campus” privileges for students, which frees students to leave school at lunch and instead buy food elsewhere. Dozens of students were seen at Montgomery County’s Rockville Town Center during a lunch hour in May, including several eating pizza and sandwiches in outdoor cafes.”
When students have other choices, more attractive if not also more palatable choices to opt for at lunch time, clearly the allegedly healthier meals prepared according to the Michelle Obama guidelines are passed up for other choices.
“A review by the Government Accountability Office said newly imposed federal rules, requiring healthier food options, can increase cost and decrease portion size. The report from the GAO said, in multiple school districts, “Negative student reactions to lunches that complied with the new meat and grain portion size limits directly affected program participation in their districts,” NBC 4 reported.
The bottom line is clear, tens of thousands of students in those counties alone, not to mention millions of students at government-run schools across the country, are refusing to eat the swill served at school lunch under the new school lunch guidelines. As reported in this column recently, students think the food is so bad they've begun a Twitter protest against the school lunch guidelines using the hashtag #ThanksMichelle in reference to the creator of the guidelines, First Lady Michelle Obama.
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