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Federal school lunch mandate cause unintended consequences

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin schools are facing unintended consequences with a two-year-old federal law aimed at getting kids to eat healthier at lunch.

They include more fruits and vegetables being thrown away instead of eaten -- more parents packing bag lunches as school lunch prices go up -- and the prospect of school fundraisers being eliminated, because the food that's sold does not meet federal guidelines.

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act continues to be phased in, and schools are working with food service providers to find things kids will eat.

Under one new requirement, youngsters must pick up a fruit or vegetable in the lunch line.

Lynette Zalec of the company that provides food for the Manitowoc district says more of that food is going in the garbage now.

School official Ken Mischler tells the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter that a Valentine's Day fund drive which sells popular heart-shaped suckers might go out the window. That's because the new food standards will also apply to school fundraisers.  

He said more kids are bringing bag lunches, or not eating at all, because they've had to raise the cafeteria prices. Zalec says the government wants to stop the practice of schools charging less than what Washington reimburses to give free lunches to low-income students.

Mischler says many schools use some of the government to cover losses for the paid lunches, so those close to the poverty line can eat at a reasonable price.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)