School lunch rules pushed down the throats of children with the support of first lady Michelle Obama may now carry a penalty that will make schools sick.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service is now seeking to impose a regulation that would require schools and states to be fined for “egregious or persistent disregard” of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which imposed sodium and calorie limits and banned white grains. In response, some schools skirted the rules while others that followed them saw lunch participation plummet.
The rule would target “any school food authority or school administering the Child Nutrition Programs” if either the federal government or the state determine a program requirement has been disregarded.
The regulation would fine schools, school food authorities, and state agencies that have “failed to correct severe mismanagement of any program, disregarded a requirement of which it has been informed, or failed to correct repeated violations of program requirements.”
The Food and Nutrition Service said fines are a “useful tool” to get noncompliant schools in line.
“This proposed rule would provide both the Department and State agencies the authority to establish an assessment after the normal monitoring and oversight activities have been unsuccessful in correcting program violations,” the rule states.
The proposed rule would also apply to private organizations taking part in federal childcare nutrition programs, including “institutions, sites, sponsors, day care centers, and day care providers.”
A report by the School Nutrition Association has said that kids won’t eat when the rules requires schools to serve certain food, which has triggered massive consequences.
“Enough already,” the report quotes one school official as saying. “A lot of damage has been done. Now, every group in our high school has taken on the sale of all kinds of things. Classroom pizza parties are everywhere and often. The intention may have been honorable; the results are not.”
The report said there was “strong consensus as to the leading reason for the decline in lunch (average daily participation): decreased student acceptance of meals,” noting that reason was mentioned by nearly 93 percent of the districts that saw lunch numbers decline.