Jericho district's lunch program affected by new federal policy
With the Obama administration’s 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act coming into full effect this calendar school year, the new healthy standards and regulations are causing controversy in Jericho.
Jericho students are not reacting well to the new school lunch regulations that have increased the lunch prices and restricted the amount of food available to students.
“[The new policies are] overreaching. It’s not the government’s place to make the decision for the students,” senior Ari Lewis said.
The students’ negative reactions towards the new legislation have decreased school profits, according to Assistant Business Superintendent Victor Manuel.
“So far this school year, the amount of school lunch purchased has already shown a decrease but the long term effects are unknown as of yet because it is the first year that the regulations are in place,” Manuel said. “Since there are less sales, we will see an impact on profits at some point.”
Students have criticized these new regulations, saying they go home hungry because the meals consist of smaller portions of food with reduced grains which are not satisfying.
“A two ounce sandwich roll is just not enough for lunch,” senior Emily Leventhal said.
On August 14, Jericho parents received an email informing them about the price increase and new regulations, which include 100% fruit juice, skim milk, and whole grain foods in the lunch plan.
“[My parents] are infuriated. They usually make me buy lunch, but now they have to make lunch for me every day,” senior Chandler Kirby said.
However, some students are embracing the new legislation. “It’s nice that the school is taking a stand to promote healthy eating habits,” senior Nicole Brennan said.
“The new policy makes me want to make healthier choices,” freshman Ben Wachtel said.
Jericho has been proactive in introducing a healthier lunch menu, including all natural soups and fresh produce from farms, far before the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act was enacted.
“We have been introducing healthy food slowly and more effectively so the students will want to try it. We have always been healthy and the students were satisfied with the meals, if they wanted more-- we gave them more, but that is not allowed with the new regulations,” said Tracy Gilet, the Director of Food Service in Jericho.
Unfortunately for Jericho, the new regulations are not necessarily changing the eating habits for the better because students are opting for unhealthier snacks sold at the snack window and in vending machines instead of consuming the entire hot lunch. According to a survey given to 25 students, 20 said that they prefer to purchase unhealthy alternatives for lunch such as bagels or potato chips rather than the standard hot lunch.
"I stopped buying the salads because there is no more balsamic dressing, croutons or sunflower seeds,” senior Carly Konsker said. “Now I just buy snacks from the vending machines."
According to Gilet, the new regulations, which were directed towards schools where most students purchase unhealthy lunches, have actually hindered our school lunch program. "We want the students to be happy, because after all they should enjoy lunch,” Gilet said in regards to the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. “We would like to have more control of the school lunch menu without being dictated about what should be served."