Federal Healthy Lunch Program Stirs Up Debate

Many schools across the nation are rebelling against a federal healthy lunch program.

Schools claim they're losing money because kids don't like the meals packed with fruits, vegetables and whole grains. All schools in Texoma are still part of the National Lunch Program, which was created to fight obesity. However, many parents in Texoma said, their kids actually end up fighting hunger at the end of the school day.

"I'm sure most of the stuff goes in the trash. Like, with the vegetables, at home I sautee them and we season the stuff but at school they're really really bland. Even I don't like to eat them so when I go have lunch with my kids I actually go and buy lunch," said a Texoma mom.

Another parent said, "My children are used to eating a certain style of food so when they're presented with teriyaki nuggets or Asian nuggets they're not necessarily going to want to eat those."

Officials from several school districts agreed many kids choose not to eat the fruits and vegetables so they end up throwing away a lot of food and losing money. However, they can't afford to drop the program because it provides reimbursements for every meal that is served. That's why some districts have had to make big changes. Holliday ISD's superintendent mentioned they had been offering several vegetable items. This year they're only offering one in hopes of minimizing waste. Some Texoma parents were happy to hear that but others say bigger changes need to be made across the board.

"Kids are just picky sometimes and at home they're given one kind of food and at school it's a different kind of food. I'm not certain that if they drop the federal food menu it would necessarily solve the problem," said a Wichita Falls resident.

But another parent disagreed. She said "I want them to eat healthy but I think it has to be on a individual school basis. The cafeteria workers know what the children like to eat there."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said, about 100,000 schools in the country signed up for the program. That's actually fewer than expected.

Tanya De Jesus, Newschannel 6