New health rules for school lunches have been hailed by the White House and championed by first lady Michelle Obama but they’re creating financial havoc, with cafeteria workers losing their jobs or work hours and food going to waste, a new survey shows.
The report by the School Nutritional Association reports nearly seven of every 10 respondents say the strict health standards begun in 2012 have been harmful to their program’s financial health — and 80 percent of districts have had to take harsh steps to offset their financial losses.
Forty-eight percent of school districts said they reduced staffing by reducing hours, imposing layoffs or deferring hiring. About 41 percent of districts said they cut their reserve fund to cope, over 35 percent said they chipped away at menu choices, and about 32 percent deferred or canceled equipment investments.
At the heart of the problem, the survey finds, is that kids don’t like the food.
“Enough already,” one association member writes of the strict rules, according to the report. “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.”