A senior at Southmoreland has encountered many transpiring events, people, and activities, but there is one factor that has seemingly garnered their attention. That factor is the evolution, or devolution, of the cafeteria food.
The school food has experienced an upheaval of food within the last couple years that have led students to question the food. Since the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year the district has been phasing in the USDA Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act.
Not everyone is pleased. “School lunches have been on constant decline,” senior Michael Gismondi said.
As generations of students have witnessed, school food is not always the best product, but it seems a breaking point has been reached within Southmoreland. Thanks to the introduction of fat free, sugar free, and 100 percent whole grain meals the student body has seen a majority of former options disappear from their cafeteria menu.
And all the students really want is options. “Students should have a choice,” senior Brock Grabiak said.
The food restrictions and conditions continue to deprive the student body as these limitations are not only bound to the local school district of Southmoreland as the new USDA Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act takes affect. This new reform is sweeping the nation and has already found disapproval.
This disapproval is apparent in Southmoreland. “It’s a waste of my time,” said senior Trisha Bungard. Not only has this seen tensions rise in the district, but across the country.
A study conducted by researchers at Cornell University and Brigham Young University indicate that nearly $4 million in food is being thrown each day in schools across the nation. A number of schools have chosen to avoid this including the Illinois School District #214. The Illinois school declined to adhere to the policy and have kept serving their own brand of food. By not following the new policy the Illinois School District are not eligible to receive a possible $900,000 in federal aid. This could be a possibility never considered by Southmoreland.
“No possibility,” said Mrs. Lynn Huggins, the Southmoreland Food Service Director. Mrs. Huggins has been the Food Service Director since the 2008-2009 school year and has seen the entire process of the new USDA regulations.
“It would be so costly that it would impact student education,” said Mrs. Huggins when asked the possibility of Southmoreland dropping the school cafeteria program.
With about 60 to 65 percent of the cafeteria funding stemming from federal resources it seems severely unlikely that the district could drop the cafeteria program.
With these new regulations many changes have been made in the cafeteria food thanks to the new standards of the USDA. Among these standards include a 100% Whole Grain menu and a new calorie limit placed on food.
“None of it is actually filling…it can be healthier with bigger portions,” said senior Kyler Brosious when asked his feelings towards the new program.
Food items that have become traditional staples of the cafeteria such as regular tea and full size homemade cookies have now disappeared. These new standards have taken away a proven commodity in the cafeteria.
“Cookies and tea made up about 32 percent of sales last year,” said Mrs. Huggins. The new regulations have forced nearly a third from last year’s cafeteria sales to be completely disassociated and dropped from the menu.
These new standards have greatly impacted the school cafeteria and the student body, but only time can tell if these standards become beneficial and accepted by the public.
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