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The Douglas County School Board has adopted a resolution on its suspension of district high schools from the National School Lunch Program.
The resolution states, “the Obama Administration's U.S. Department of Agriculture has promulgated onerous regulations,” describing the required foods and caloric restrictions as “so unappealing and dissatisfying that across the country, students are opting to forgo the school meals altogether.”
The resolution says the district will continue to provide nutritious, appealing and affordable lunch choices, and that the board encourages “the continued exploration of innovative partnerships with local and national business” to expand those choices.
It also states the board's support for working with federal and state officials toward a locally developed school lunch program.
Board members criticized the regulations' stringency during a discussion at the July 15 board meeting.
“I don't want to be the district that has the most nutritious wastebaskets in the state,” board president Kevin Larsen said, adding that he's concerned about the program's potential reach.
“What about the kids that bring their own lunch?” he said. “Is the next step to start inspecting their bag lunches to determine if they meet some particular person's nutrition agenda, and start parenting instead of our parents parenting?”
He questioned whether the guidelines could extend to students who choose to eat at home.
“Are they going to come monitor your kitchen to determine if the choices they're putting on their table are appropriate?” he said. “Yes, healthy nutrition should be a high goal. It fits well with education. But boy, this smacks of nanny-state interference.”
Larsen also said a “one-size-fits-all” approach that sets caloric restrictions regardless of an individual's height, weight or athleticism also is problematic.
“No one disagrees that we have a nutrition crisis in this country,” board member Craig Richardson said. “No one disagrees there's a very close correlation between nutrition and academic achievement. There, we sort of part company with our friends at the USDA and Washington.
“We don't typically like central planners here in Douglas County, and that's because we don't think they're particularly good at decision-making. There is a role for districts and parents and students and school-based leaders to strike those balances and meet those unique needs on an individual basis.”
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