Do you toss your cafeterias food in the trash? George Alden, left, and Jared Stillson eat food items from the school lunch menu in the lunch room at Draper Middle School in Rotterdam, N.Y.
Do you toss your cafeterias food in the trash?
Lexile

Becky Domokos-Bays provides food services in the Alexandria, Virginia City Public Schools. She has served her students whole-grain pasta 20 times. Each time, she says, they rejected it.

But starting next school year, pasta and other grain products in Alexandria City Public Schools will have to be mostly, whole-grain. That includes rolls, biscuits, pizza crust, tortillas and even grits.

The requirement is part of a government effort to make school lunches and breakfasts healthier. The biggest challenge is keeping fruits and vegetables from ending up in the trash.

Championed by first lady Michelle Obama, the new standards have been phased in over the last two school years, with more changes coming in 2014.

Some schools say the changes have been expensive and difficult to put in place. They want the government to roll back some of the requirements. The main concerns: finding enough whole grain-rich foods that kids like and lowering sodium levels.

School nutrition directors across the country mostly agreed that healthy changes were needed in school lunches long famous for daily servings of greasy fries and pizza. But Domokos-Bays and other school nutrition directors say the standards were put in place too quickly for kids get used to new tastes. When kids don't buy lunch, or throw it away, it wastes money.

Some of the main challenges reported by school nutrition directors:

Whole grains: While many kids have adapted to whole grain rolls, breads and even pizza crusts, some schools are having problems with whole grain-rich pastas.

Whole grains have also proved a hard sell for some popular regional items, like biscuits and grits in the South. Lyman Graham of the Roswell, New Mexico, school district says tortillas are one of the most popular foods in his area, but the whole wheat flour versions are "going in the trash."

Sodium/Salt: Schools will have to lower the total sodium levels in meals next school year and then will have to lower them even further by 2017. School lunch directors say the 2017 target isn't feasible and say kids will reject the foods.

Fruits and vegetables: The standards require every student to take a fruit or vegetable to create a balanced plate. The reaction among students has been mixed. "If the kids don't eat the food, then all I have is healthy trash cans," said Peggy Lawrence, director of nutrition at the Rockdale County Public Schools in Georgia.

Healthier snacks: Schools will for the first time this year have to make sure that all foods, including food in vending machines, meet healthier standards. While many schools have already moved to make snacks healthier, others depend on snack money to help operate their lunchrooms and are worried about a sales dip.

Critical thinking challenge: What does Peggy Lawrence mean by healthy trash cans?

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COMMENTS (150)
  • ANTHONYG-ZDE
    5/07/2014 - 12:57 p.m.

    Do you toss your cafeteria's food into the trash? Yes I do unless if it's nasty then I'll throw it away and of it test good then I'm going to eat it.

  • traw-KK
    5/07/2014 - 03:48 p.m.

    What she means by a healthy trash can is because the trash can has all kinds of healthy food it that kids throw away at lunch time when they don't eat it

  • berr-berry
    5/07/2014 - 03:50 p.m.

    How can you have a Healthy Trashcan when it has garbage?!! And what kind of name is Peggy?!
    What is with this stuff?! They I say I need more words but that's all I can think of

  • Jason0421-YYCA
    5/07/2014 - 08:14 p.m.

    I think that Alexandria City Public Schools really care for their students because they want to feed the kids healthy food. Even though that kids dislike the food they get the students know that the schools are doing this for there sakes. So I think that students shouldn't fight against nutritious food that cafeterias give to you.
    Critical thinking challenge: What does Peggy Lawrence mean by healthy trash cans?
    Answer: Peggy Lawrence mean that kids throw away healthy food into trash cans, so that is why she is saying that the trash cans are heathy trash cans.

  • KAJ15
    5/07/2014 - 09:56 p.m.

    At MBMS, our school food is not very good. And I do end up throwing my food away if it doesn't taste good. My family is a healthy family and we tend to eat healthy food. The food at school can be healthy, but the fact that it doesn't taste good, ruins the whole point. Healthy food can be very good, and if it is healthy and good, there wouldn't be this problem.

  • breiannel
    5/08/2014 - 09:54 a.m.

    when i eat fruit & vegetable i will eat some of it or throw it in the trash that's what i might do i love eating fruit & vegetable or i might give it to one of my friends i would never ever want to throw my fruit or vegetable in the trash??

  • steiny01
    5/08/2014 - 09:57 a.m.

    I sometimes do but it is only things I don't like at all or I know I will not like it. I did a research paper on this topic and yes a lot of kids take food and it goes right to the trash untouched!

  • mr06ferg
    5/08/2014 - 10:15 a.m.

    I think that the government needs to stop requiring healthier foods. Although it is healthier for the kids , they wont eat it because it doesnt taste as good as the regular version. Kids are putting those foods in the trash .

  • AndresMontes
    5/08/2014 - 10:26 a.m.

    This article is about schools trying to make lunches healthier by taking out sodium and other unhealthy things in lunches. But kids are throwing away the lunches which is wasting the schools money. Thats why the people that work are trying to make lunches taste better as well.

  • collinwhite
    5/08/2014 - 10:41 a.m.

    No i would not throw my school food away, because it took lunch ladies hours to make about 500 plates of food every day. It would be very disrespectful if we throw away the lunch ladies food. If we throw away healthy food you can tell that that person does not eat healthy. You should eat healthy because it is better for your body. So that is why you should not throw away lunch food.

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