Encouraged by a White House push to reduce childhood obesity by helping kids eat healthier diets, Congress in 2010 adopted new regulations for school lunches. Under the rules, federally subsidized school meals must include more fresh fruits and vegetables, less fat, sugar and salt, and fewer calories.
Now some students whose families can afford other options are rejecting those lunches because the kids don’t like them. Social media has seen waves of teen complaints about receiving an apple or banana they didn’t ask for and ended up throwing away. Or about still being hungry after lunch because the meat portions are so small.
Some adults who administer and provide school meals have complained, too, arguing that the new rules cost school districts more, cause more food waste and drive kids to quit the program and get their food elsewhere. Federal data confirm that across the country, 1.2 million fewer students took school lunches in 2012-2013 than did so two years earlier.