This post was written by Alex Bauer and originally appeared on RYOT.
The school district of Campbell County, Ky., is opting out of its federally funded school lunch program because the students didn’t like the healthy food.
While you may or may not have just rolled your eyes at that, this district isn’t the only one forfeiting hundreds of thousands of federal dollars for the sake of keeping kids happy.
In the Campbell County school district, 30,000 fewer students a year were buying lunches with the healthier options. Instead, opting to bring food from home, eating at nearby restaurants or even skipping lunch altogether. Without kids buying, the district loses money.
Gene Kirchner, the superintendent of the county school, told USA Today, “The calorie limitations and types of foods that have to be provided … have resulted in the kids just saying ‘I’m not going to eat that.’”
They still offer a healthy lunch, but are not using federal dollars to cover it. The program that allows children the option to have a free or reduced-price lunch will also remain functioning.
Throughout the nation, schools are plagued with similar results when it comes to federal lunches. Of the school meal plans reported, 47 percent of them declined in revenues this past year, and one million fewer students are choosing to eat school lunches each day, according to the national School Nutrition Association.
The schools that are dropping these programs are described as having a student body that is fairly wealthy, whereas higher-poverty districts can’t afford to drop federally funded programs.
And while the number of schools that have dropped the program are small — 146 schools according to The U.S. Department of Agriculture — the School Nutrition Association thinks that number will grow this year.
To improve taste, which is the kids’ biggest issue with the healthy food, some school districts are working with consultants and chefs to create menus that are healthy and flavorful.
While the main goal for schools is to not have kids skip lunch, there’s still a concern of childhood obesity in America, and how big of a role the federal government should play in dealing with it.
Obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the CDC. And one of the healthy lunch program’s goal was to begin addressing those numbers.
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