Originally published October 5 2015
Maggot-infested school lunches sent to worm farms after U.S. students refuse to eat them
by Daniel Barker
(NaturalNews) In the estimation of a growing number of Americans - including parents, school-aged children and professionals in the education field, among others - Michelle Obama's pet school lunch program has proven to be a dismal failure, no matter how well-meaning her intentions might have been.
A majority of the one-size-fits-all programs mandated at the federal level, particularly those that have been initiated by the Obama administration during his two terms, have fallen far short of expectations. In many cases, they have caused more harm than good. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act is no exception.
One of the biggest problems with the program is that kids simply find the new menus unappetizing. More than one million schoolchildren across the country have boycotted the lunches, while others have created social media campaigns in which photos of skimpy or downright disgusting trays of food are shared and mocked online.
Those in charge of menu planning for school lunches have also complained that the new guidelines are often difficult or impossible to meet, especially in terms of creating meals that kids will actually eat.
Recently, there have been reports with photos of maggot-infested meals being served in school cafeterias. It is unclear whether the maggot problem is truly widespread and if it is somehow directly connected to meeting the guidelines, but it certainly hasn't helped to improve the already negative perceptions of the program.
However, one of the effects of the unpopular program that can be measured is the huge amount of waste created by kids refusing to eat part or all of the lunches they are given. The children often end up throwing away the fruit portions or other unappetizing components of the lunches, and school officials and others have become concerned about the increased wastage since the program went into effect.
Some schools, businesses and other organizations in various parts of the country have found some novel ways to deal with the waste problem. For example, the Nebraska Farmers Union has initiated a program in which Lincoln-area schools can participate in a vermiculture project in which the waste will be donated to a worm farm where the leftovers will be converted into useful compost. Three area schools have already joined the program, and at least one more is considering getting involved.
In Rhode Island, another recycling program is feeding school lunch waste to pigs at My Blue Heaven Farm in the Cumberland area. Two of the school districts involved in the project are participants in the now infamous National School Lunch Program.
A similar program is underway in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, the success of which has prompted officials in the Albuquerque area to consider instituting their own waste recycling project.
These solutions to the growing waste problem are certainly admirable and worthwhile, but the essential problem remains unsolved until the First Lady's school lunch scheme is also tossed in the trash - or at least modified to make it palatable.
In some parts of the country, efforts are underway to reject the federal lunch mandates. For example, officials in South Carolina have approved exemptions to the despised program, particularly for fundraising projects that raise money by selling candy, baked goods and other foods.
Republicans in Washington are exercising their majority muscle in a push to modify the regulations on school lunches. Recently, Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) announced his intention to introduce legislation that would relax the rules on whole grain and sodium content.
Hoeven stresses that his goal is not to scrap the entire program, but rather to introduce some much-needed flexibility into the regulations. That sounds like a good start towards making lunchtime a little more appealing to kids and fighting the problem of food waste in our nation's schools.
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