After former first lady Michelle Obama’s “healthy” school lunch program was deployed several years ago, a long list of fed-up students posted photos of their menu options, declaring their meals weren’t what you might characterize as filling — or appetizing:
All we get for lunch today. Thank you Michelle Obama pic.twitter.com/1rACNXM9aP
— Brady Justice (@BradyJustice2) March 12, 2014
Even a mother got in on the act:
— Megan Howell (@Howelady) March 14, 2014
But with Republican President Donald Trump now in office, GOP leaders look to be on the road to rolling back Obama’s program — and one western Pennsylvania high school already has taken matters into its own hands.
It used to be that students at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City were forced to wait in longer lines for fewer food choices, TribLive reported. What’s more, the district’s food-service program was losing money, the outlet added.
But that all changed this school year when administrators opted to pull the high school from the National School Lunch Program, TribLive said.
“Healthy” meal rules limit how many calories schools can serve and require items such as fruits and vegetables on trays, the outlet said — and at Penn-Trafford, like many other schools, often students simply threw out fruits and veggies.
“The trash cans were always full, sometimes overflowing,” senior Brianna Lander, 18, told TribLive. “You don’t see that now. People would go up to the snack line and get random junk food, where now you can get an actual meal and eat it.”
The Penn-Trafford High School cafeteria got remodeled food court-style, the outlet said, with a deli and panini station, a grill as well as pizza and a la carte stations.
Opting out of Nat'l School Lunch Program working out for Penn-Trafford HS https://t.co/lldGdFyaqD
— Patrick Varine (@MurrysvilleStar) February 20, 2017
“You get to choose what you want instead of being sort of funneled in and only having one choice,” junior Chase Zavarella told TribLive. “I think everyone is happier with the new selection.”
Brett Lago, the school district’s business manager, says he sees the wisdom of more food choices.
“Plus kids at that age, they’re a little more informed and better at making smart choices for themselves because we still have a lot of healthy options,” he told the outlet. “But as far as meal guidelines, you can’t say that a 300-pound football player and a 90-pound cheerleader have the same [dietary] needs on a daily basis.”
And what’s more, the program stopped losing money, despite forgoing federal subsidies.
“We’ve lost, to date, about $40,000 worth of reimbursement, but our sales are up about $50,000 over last year,” Lago told TribLive, adding that the student “participation has gone from about 25 to 45 percent, and we’re still providing free lunches to all those students who would have been eligible under the school lunch program.”