Once again, school officials are finding themselves disheartened by students who are given fruits and vegetables in school cafeterias only to throw them away before leaving the lunch line. Officials are arguing amongst themselves about what to do to stop it.
“We have some of the healthiest trash cans in the nation,” joked Brad Kramer, director of food services for the Grain Valley R-V School District in a Kansas City, Missouri, suburb.
Kramer is not the first school official to employ this joke. It has been making the rounds of schools all across the country.
Fort Thomas, Kentucky, School Superintendent Gene Kirchner pointed out last year that if Michelle Obama’s program is resulting in so much waste, it is not very effective. “I have to think that across the country, it has to be a staggering amount of food going to waste, and I think there are people out there who could really use that food,” he said.
“We don’t want to have the most nutritious waste basket in the state or the country. We want to serve nutritious food,” Kramer added. “But it’s only nutritious if students eat it.”
Along with Kirchner, Kramer and other school officials want more flexibility with Obama’s strict lunch standards.
“What we’re asking for is flexibility so we can go back to making some of those decisions at a local level,” said food services director Ronda McCullick of Park Hill School District in Kansas City.
Hearing the frustration of school districts from coast to coast, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) is working on changes to the federal standards.
“There are 300 school districts in Kansas,” Roberts told McClatchy News. “If you think about how many school districts there are in the U.S. and how different they all are, it’s clear that a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work.”
Despite the millions of dollars in food waste and despite the disgruntled food services officials in schools everywhere, Michelle Obama is still claiming she has succeeded in changing the way the country eats.
The first lady also has criticism for those who oppose her. Setting up a strawman, Obama recently claimed that people who oppose her failing policies are “arguing that we just can’t afford to serve our kids healthy food.” Of course, no one anywhere is making that argument.
Regardless, as Obama and the Department of Agriculture continue to claim that the standards are both sensible and working, the complaints are growing.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.