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Schools Argue That New Federal Nutrition Guidelines Have Created Financial Problems

Schools Argue that New Federal Nutrition Guidelines have Created Financial Problems

Many schools are reporting financial woes as a result of new federal nutrition rules pushed by The Agriculture Department in response to First Lady Michelle Obama's efforts to fight childhood obesity by promoting healthier choices in schools.

According to school officials in schools throughout the nation, the new healthier options are far more costly and students are choosing not to eat them, creating financial losses that some say will cause them to go into education budgets.

"Once a profit center for schools, cafeterias have become a financial black hole where schools have to pay more for healthier food that students turn their noses up to. And the deficits are being made up by cafeteria worker firings and budget shifting, according to the School Nutrition Association," said The Washington Examiner.

According to The Examiner, the president of the School Nutrition Association, Jean Ronnei, wrote a letter to the Senate last week addressing the growing concerns of financial issues as a result of strict nutrition guidelines.

"'It also contributes to the increased costs school districts have absorbed - USDA estimated the rules added $1.2 billion in food and labor costs last year alone. As a result, even with the equipment and labor in place to serve creative, fresh made meals, districts like SPPS have lost money and could be forced to cut into education funds to cover meal program losses,'" Ronnei wrote, according to the article.

Ronnei is referring to Saint Paul Public Schools, where she oversees the Nutrition Services Department and says her district like many nationwide is considering cutting education funds to cover meal program losses.

Ronnei also attributes financial woes in the cafeteria to unrealistic nutrition guidelines such as the requirement for all grains being offered to be whole grain rich.

"'How many of us eat only whole grain rich foods at every meal? Schools nationwide are proud to have increased student consumption of whole grains. In the push to make all school menu items meet this standard, we have lost the ability to appeal to students in diverse communities who don't eat foods like brown rice at home or in restaurants,' said her letter," according to the article.

Read the full article here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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