America isn’t the only thing that President Trump is making great again, as more students at Penn-Trafford High School are once again buying lunches since the school has abandoned Michelle Obama’s strict health program.
During her husband’s administration, Michelle Obama championed a National School Lunch Program in 2014 that instituted restrictions on what could and couldn’t be served to students during their mid-day meals
These guidelines also put calorie limits on the meals, leading many student to complain that it left them feeling hungry and unable to concentrate, especially those who were engaged in after school activities. The guidelines placed a variety of restrictions on lunches including calories, fat, sugar, salt and other factors.
Students aren’t the only ones happy about Penn-Trafford High School’s decision to abandon Michelle Obama’s program, as the school’s administrators are seeing a healthy increase in lunch sales, which is welcome considering districts opting out of the lunch program will lose tens of thousands of dollars in federal funding incentives.
In previous years when they headed to lunch, Penn-Trafford High School students had to wait in longer lines for fewer choices, and the district’s food-service program was losing money.
This year, administrators chose to have the high school opt out of the National School Lunch Program, and they are on pace to be back in the black, budget-wise.
“We’ve lost, to date, about $40,000 worth of reimbursement, but our sales are up about $50,000 over last year,” district Business Manager Brett Lago said.
Lunch prices range from $3.20 to $4.50.
“The 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,” Lago said.
National School Lunch Program guidelines limit what school cafeterias are able to serve in terms of calorie and sodium limits and also mandated that students be served certain items.
In the past, a lot of those items — fruits and vegetables in particular — ended up in the garbage.
“The trash cans were always full, sometimes overflowing,” said senior Brianna Lander, 18, of Harrison City. “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.”
Rather than convincing schools to adopt Michelle Obama’s lunch plan through its merit, the government handed out financial benefits in the form of reimbursements for districts that agreed to institute the strict guidelines of Obama’s program. This offset some of the school’s inevitable losses in lunch profits, but did nothing to help the students who had to struggle through their days on an empty stomach.
Some of Michelle’s lunches were so bad that students started the Twitter hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama, where they posted pictures of their new meals with what appears to be food, but nothing like the days of chicken nuggets and pizza that you may remember from your own school days.
— Spenser Wright (@ApexApocalypse) November 22, 2014
— Jess (@Jess_Sency) November 18, 2014
— Hunter Whitney (@huntwhitney4) November 13, 2014
Students expressed their satisfaction with the increase in their lunch selections, with new choices on the menu now that meals aren’t restricted by Michelle’s programs. Although the school admits they were concerned about the funding they would lose from opting out of the program, they now predict they’ll end up at least breaking even after seeing an increase in lunch sales.
“You get to choose what you want instead of being sort of funneled in and only having one choice,” said junior Chase Zavarella, 17, of Penn Township. “I think everyone is happier with the new selection.”
Just as important for administrators, the food-service budget is looking healthier than previous years.
“The preliminary estimate was that we would lose up to $100,000 based on the federal reimbursement, but that was kind of the worst-case scenario if we didn’t increase sales,” Lago said. “Right now, we’re looking at breaking even at the high-school level and hopefully the rest of the district as well.”
For Lander and Zavarella, the wide range of choices is what’s most important.
“There’s more of a variety of different things,” Lander said. “People actually leave full now.”
For those students are attending schools still enrolled in the plan, relief might be coming soon, as its been reported that The House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative minded lawmakers in Congress, are seeking to repeal Michelle’s lunch plan now that the Obama’s have left power.
According to Politico, the House Freedom Caucus, a powerful group of Republican lawmakers in the lower chamber, is urging Congress to end first lady Michelle Obama’s hated school lunch program.
A document released on the website of Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., called for the repeal of certain parts of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act Of 2010, the legislative bill that helped enshrine Michelle Obama’s signature program into law. It’s part of a wider initiative called released under the title “First 100 Days: Rules, Regulations, and Executive Orders to Examine, Revoke and Issue.”
“The largest of the five school- and center-based programs, the National School Lunch Program, fed about 30 million children each school day in 2014 and cost $12.7 billion,” the report read. “The rules are hallmarks of the Obama administration, but kids aren’t eating the foods, industries can’t comply with the standards, and schools are wasting money.”
The only benefit from Michelle Obama’s program seemed to be the money offered to schools that enrolled in it, but unfortunately that didn’t help the students who had to suffer through their lunch each day.