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School Lunches Not Satisfying, Students Say

Prices increased and portions decreased this year under new federally mandated program.

School Lunches Not Satisfying, Students Say

Lunch prices have increased throughout the school district, but portion size has decreased, and many students are not feeling satisfied after their lunch periods, according to the board of education’s student representatives.

The student representatives—who are chosen by the high school administration and share information from the school at board meetings—expressed concern at the Sept. 24 board of education meeting that students are having to pay higher prices for lunches, but getting smaller portions. They said students are not feeling as full at the end of their lunch periods.

Business administrator Peter Starrs said the district participates in a child nutrition program that funds meals at the schools, and the USDA has implemented new food regulations.

“They put different requirements on how much protein, how many calories, salt and how big portions are,” he said. “We are more restricted in what we can serve.”

This is all being done through the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was put in place to combat obesity. School districts that do not comply are levied hefty fines.

The contract for Bridgewater school lunches is through Maschio’s Food Services, Inc., for $36,330.

Through the payment of lunches, the district is assuming to get a return of $125,000 for the 2012-2013 school year.

In the primary and intermediate schools, student lunches cost $2.40. In the middle school, student lunches cost $2.55, and lunches at the high school cost $2.70.

Starrs said they have heard some complaints from the lower levels too, and are looking into ways of improving the offerings.

“We have directed our company to see what we can do to bring the menu back to what it was with sizes and offerings,” he said. “But we are confined by regulations, and need to stay in it to receive monetary subsidies.”

Other districts have seen complaints about the new lunch programs, with some students, including those at Parsippany-Troy Hills High School instituting a lunch strike recently to protest the changes.

Two students at the school organized a strike Sept. 28, asking students not to buy lunch or any snacks from the cafeteria on that day.

Other schools have held similar protests with students bringing brown-bag lunches instead of buying from the cafeteria, according to an article on Parsippany Patch, and two U.S. representatives in Congress are currently looking to amend the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Schilder said the changes were all made in the name of fighting childhood obesity, but the district will see what can be done.

“We’re looking into it,” he said. “It is certainly being looked into, and if there is anything we can do, we will.”

What do you think about the new lunch prices and offerings? Are the changes worth it?

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