Petaluma schools are bracing to spend more money on meals following the implementation of the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010” which goes into effect July 1.
The new mandate is an attempt to get kids to eat more fruit and vegetables and prevent childhood obesity. It will require all students to take a piece of fruit or vegetable with their lunches and for schools to serve only skim or 1 percent milk.
In addition, any food contracts entered into prior to the change will be prohibited, according to a recent article in the Argus Courier.
And that has many schools crying foul.
The new federal mandate will result in an added cost of 0.27 cents per meal or an additional $120,000 a year, according to Midge Hoffman, budget director for Petaluma City Schools to meet the mandate.
But supporters, including retiring Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, say the long-term goal of getting children to eat better outweighs the initial increases to districts (the goal is that the change will encourage more schools to create gardens and work with local farms to obtain produce.)
“I certainly understand that school districts face tight budgets, but the cost to society of unhealthy, unbalanced school meals is simply unaffordable,” Woolsey told the Argus. “If we don't implement stronger rules today, the obesity public health crisis will get worse and our education system will suffer, since a child who's not eating properly can't learn properly.”
You tell us: Do you support this new mandate? Or should schools be left to figure out on their own how to provide healthy food to students?