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Editorial: Lunch line limbo

It seems like just yesterday we were reporting on a brave new future in our school cafeterias in the form of a federal mandate dictating a new set of guidelines for what schools must serve their students.

Though government mandates tend to be given an extraordinarily bad reputation (with good reason, a lot of the time) this was one order that was easy to get behind. That goes doubly for those young enough to recall the recent state of school lunches, in which “cheese,” “breading” and “sugar” seemed to occupy their own, prominent slots on the food pyramid.

This story seems like it landed just yesterday because it practically did. The standards were put in place at the beginning of this school year. Yet already, districts are bucking the trend and dumping the program.

We recently reported the Niskayuna Central School District moved to drop the new guidelines by April 1 after its lunch program operated at a $70,000 loss in the first half of the school year (you can read all about it at spotlightnews.com). It seems kids weren’t going for the new food options, and those who were forced to buy the lunch out of need or for other reasons were tossing their fruits and veggies straight into the trash in favor of going hungry or grabbing some other, easily obtainable source of “nutrition” in the form of candy or junk food.

It’s surprising to see schools quickly discarding the lunch guidelines because that also means the loss of federal aid dollars. In a time of dwindling aid, that’s astonishing. But evidently the issue is so profound it would be preferable to go it alone.

It seems fitting this issue is coming into focus again, given February is American Heart Month — you can read more about that in the Point of View article opposite this editorial. Suffice it to say, this is a time when the American Heart Association and other groups are encouraging Americans to be more cognizant of their overall health, including how they eat.

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