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It has been the mission of First Lady Michelle Obama to change the school lunch program that exists within schools and make schools accountable for the nutritional value school food contains. In December 2010 a bill was put into effect by President Obama requiring schools to beef up nutritional standards of school lunches and provide schools with funding for child nutrition and a free lunch program for some students for the next 5 years.
While the idea of providing solid nutrition and food to school aged children is a good one, it has been met with much controversy and resistance from students. Many students are rejecting the new lunches and complaining of hunger. So, what can we do now?
What Is The Hunger-Free Kids Act?
The hunger-free kids act is a federal bill that made law in December of 2010. The focus of the law is to improve the standards for child nutrition. This includes the distribution of $4.5 billion for nutrition-related programs in schools. This funding is designated for the next 5 years and aims to fight childhood obesity.
The bill in total will increase the amount of children that meet the criteria for school lunch programs, will now use census data to account for students in high-poverty areas and will allocate the USDA funds to provide food during after school programs in high-risk areas.
What Do The New Nutritional Standards Do?
Aside from funding programs geared to childhood nutrition and hunger-free kids, the law requires schools to adhere to standards regarding school lunches as a whole. The new standards give the USDA the power to regulate the foods sold as part of school lunches as well as in vending machines. Additionally, the new standards will provide sources of more nutritional food for the USDA and provide funds for schools and communities to attain food from local gardens and farms. In addition, more money will be designated to support changing standards for subsidized lunches. The bill also intends to increase school’s access to drinking water and set marginal criteria for wellness programs in schools.
How Does Program Monitoring Work?
To ensure that schools are adhering to the new standards, all schools will be audited every 3 years to check on policies and procedures and to see if nutritional standards are being met. Additionally, parents and students will be provided with nutritional values of each school lunch and food items. Under the new bill comes a training procedure for all school lunchroom personnel and an improvement to recall procedures for food.
Why Is The New Act Controversial?
While the Hunger-Free Kids Act has many good points, it has been met with some controversy. While putting a cap on calorie intake and portion control is a good way to fight obesity, it presumes that all students require the same number of calories and meal size to halt hunger and does not take into account each individual child’s age or body size.
The new standards also presume that all forms of protein are interchangeable and the same, and makes the assumption that all children will be properly fed when at home.