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Michelle Obama's School Lunch Program: $4 Million of Food Thrown in Trash Each Day

Michelle Obama's School Lunch Program: $4 Million of Food Thrown in Trash Each Day

“We don’t want to have the most nutritious waste basket in the state or the country.”

An investigative report by a Cincinnati TV station finds that the government’s new school lunch requirements championed by First Lady Michelle Obama are wasting $4 million a day in discarded food that children won’t eat.

The National School Lunch Program feeds upwards to 31 million American students a day, spending nearly $12 billion annually, but many of those children are throwing away the vegetables, fruits, and snacks forced on them by the new federal nutrition standards.

A new Harvard study of the program, WCPO Channel 9 reported, “shows that 60 percent of fresh vegetables and 40 percent of fresh fruit are being thrown away.”

“And a recent study released by the National School Nutrition Association found 81.2 percent of schools surveyed indicated an increase in the amount of food being thrown away by students since the new nutrition standards went into effect two years ago,” the televised report continued.

Nearly 600 school districts have already dropped out of the First Lady’s lunch program, Fort Thomas Independent Schools in Northern Kentucky being one of them.

Fort Thomas School Superintendent Gene Kirchner pointed out that if the program is resulting in so much waste, then 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.

In fact, according to one government study, over one million kids across the country have stopped eating lunch altogether after the new standards were imposed on their schools.

Many of the new requirements force lunch preparers to use fresh ingredients instead of canned or frozen, and this has led to morale issues among lunchroom staffers, the study found. “Staff in one [school food authority] noted that the increased amount of time and effort to prepare fruits and vegetables also led to morale issues when staff saw students throw the fruits and vegetables in the trash,” the investigation found.

The First Lady lashed out at critics of her unpopular nutrition standards, charging that anyone who criticizes her program is “playing politics” with “our children’s future.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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