Healthy Meals in the Lunchroom?

Hardly anyone ever remembers food served in the school cafeteria with any sort of fondness, but kids today have better choices health-wise.

However, with the Child Nutrition Reauthorization that has recently been taken up by Congress there have been numerous complaints regarding school nutrition with claims that the current guidelines are far too stringent on ingredients. They’re also complaining that the reimbursement from the government is too low to cover costs.

Currently, the rate of reimbursement by the federal government in the school lunch program is approximately $3 for those students who currently qualify to be on a “free lunch” program. It is difficult to cover all associated costs for a lunch that most in the media don’t think about. Things such as payroll for nutrition service departments, food, cleaning supplies, transportation, uniforms, and other services and utilities is hard to do with so small an amount for reimbursement.

What is often not discussed is how this ties in to immigration reform. Some 90 percent of the cost of a lunch is split between payroll and food cost. In order to not run a deficit, districts often pay the lowest wage possible and those workers will stay only as long as necessary before finding another higher paying job.

While Congress will more than likely continue with most of the current school nutrition guidelines and make it easier for children to be served healthier food at school, being able to staff school food departments will be a challenge with a $3 lunch reimbursement rate.


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