The Case for Sticking With the New School Lunch Program.docx

The Case for Sticking With the New School Lunch...

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The Case for Sticking With the New School Lunch Program School lunch dropouts: Why giving up before giving it a chance fails our students. By Chef Ann Cooper, Contributor | Sept. 12, 2013, at 6:01 p.m. Just in time for back-to-school season, the media is focusing its attention on a few schools that have opted out of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP ) . Three districts argue that the new U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines requiring healthier meals have led to a loss of revenue and wasted food. To put this controversial news story in perspective, first let me point out that only 1 percent of the 521 school districts surveyed by the School Nutrition Association said they were dropping out of the program. That means that 99 percent of districts continue to participate in the NSLP. Additionally, 92.7 percent of the surveyed districts say that "they do not plan, nor are considering, dropping any schools from NSLP." I consider that a pretty successful retention rate for a program that is going through significant changes affecting more than 31 million children, their families and the school food staff that serve them. The media could have just as easily focused its attention on the many school lunch success stories. St. Paul Public Schools in Minnesota and Riverside Unified School District in California are two examples of school districts thriving under the new guidelines. But since the media has once again brought up two of the more prevalent arguments against the new (and excellent) USDA guidelines for school food, I'd like to address them: 1) Schools are losing money. In other words, fewer students are buying school lunch, which decreases the amount of revenue the school generates through its lunch program.
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