Food laws disrupt lunch options

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Courtesy photo/MCT Campus

When students walk up to the school store window, the familiar presence and smells of pizza, cookies, candy and slurpees are no longer there due to school districts changing their menus to meet health standards set in place by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

“We still sell some of the same food we did last year like gum, crackers and chips,” school store advisor William Tack said, “but our major items like pizza and cookies are completely different ingredient wise this year.”

In 2012, more than one third of teens were reported as overweight or obese. The goal of the new act is to ensure students aren’t being fed unhealthy foods at school in an effort to reduce childhood obesity and raise nutrition awareness, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

“There’s been a significant drop in sales since we’ve switched out food this year,” Tack said. “I’ve been running the store for 20 years now and I don’t ever think sales have been this low.”

While some of the same food from last year is sold, such as pizza, bagels and sandwiches, foods must be rich in whole grain.The law requires all entrees served by the school to contain 10 percent of the recommended daily fiber intake and include a fruit, vegetable, protein or dairy product as the first ingredient.

“The intentions of the law were great,” student council advisor Amber Bronson said. “Getting kids to eat healthier is important, but this situation is going to have negative effects on a bunch of different clubs.”

School organizations were forced to eliminate many fundraisers, including sucker, bake and candy sales; all of which were main sources of raising money for several clubs.

“I’m happy bake sales and other food sales aren’t allowed anymore,” sophomore Lauren Harris said. “While they were fun and all, this generation is so unhealthy already and they seemed unnecessary because the cafeteria sells all that junk anyway.”

In previous years, school store sales usually reach above $10,000 per month. Since switching food, sales have fallen to less than than $5,000.

“Sales being so low are going to affect the store in future years,” Tack said. “We may not be able to have all the items we do now.”

Teachers on lunch duty notice more and more students are bringing bagged lunches from home, instead of buying food from school.

“Kids are bringing their own lunches now and can eat chips and candy all day if they want to,” Tack said. “The thing about this new law is that there is nothing stopping students from going home and eating whatever they want.”