Two school districts in Waterford will drop out of the federal lunch program next year, due to new government guidelines that require schools to cut calories and serve more fruits and vegetables.
Waterford High School superintendent Keith Brandstetter says his district only joined the National School Lunch Program three years ago. He says a lot of the extra fruits and vegetables now required under the new federal guidelines are just ending up in the trash, and that the portions are just too stingy.
“When we have pasta probably three days a week, you get five meatballs now. In the past you used to get seven,” said Brandstetter. “The number of chips on a plate, it can only be so many – I think it is nine where maybe before maybe it was 14.”
He added: “Part of it is too that the guidelines are the same for a freshman who might be 110 pounds and senior male athlete who's 230.“
Brandstetter says that the district will lose about $53,000 in federal funding by dropping out, money that subsidizes free and reduced lunch. Brandstetter says those funds cover about 14 percent of his students. He says they hope to make up for some of that lost revenue by increasing school lunch participation and through savings on fruits and veggies.
Department of Public Instruction (DPI) spokesman John Johnson says it's unfortunate that some Waterford schools are planning to leave the program, but he says the new rules are necessary.
“There is a national crisis and there is a crisis in our Wisconsin schools with children and obesity across our nation,” said Johnson. “One real critical point behind doing these nutritional changes was really around addressing childhood obesity.”
DPI says that in the past school year only one school district has dropped the National School Lunch Program because of the new regulations.