Central New York’s Fayetteville-Manlius and Baldwinsville school districts are the latest to ditch the National School Lunch Program, which was revamped in 2010 under the guidance of First Lady Michelle Obama in an effort to fight childhood obesity.
Strict limits on calories, fat, sugar, carbohydrates, sodium and other aspects of the school lunch imposed by the federal government on schools participating in the free and reduced lunch program has not only increased cafeteria costs, they’ve resulted in a drastic drop in the number of participating students.
At Fayetteville-Manlius, Baldwinsville, and thousands of other districts the new regulations resulted in a sharp downturn in students who eat school lunch and a sharp increase in food waste. The lost sales are threatening the viability of cafeteria programs in schools across the country, prompting many to do without federal subsidies to serve students food they’ll actually buy and eat.
“Grilled cheese and tomato soup was a very popular lunch,” Baldwinsville Superintendent David Hamilton told WRVO public media. “We couldn’t offer that under the new guidelines of the federal government. Spaghetti and meatballs, we couldn’t offer that either.”
The awww moment in this story for me was the grilled cheese and tomato soup being off the menu. Do you have a food that takes you right back to childhood every time you have it? For me, it's grilled cheese and tomato soup. That was the go-to lunch my Mom provided when I went home for lunch, especially in winter.
Those lunches were made possible by the fact that we had an open hour for lunch, which I sometimes used to visit places downtown or near downtown within walking distance of Central High School. We just had a story about the 100th anniversary of the Baker Stree Train Station, which had a lunch counter that was one of my regular stops - ditto the Greyhound station, ditto Murphys. I probably had a lot of food that Michelle O. would have disapproved of, but, hey, I walked it off, OK?