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Healthy school lunches end up in trash

Thanks to government guidelines, kids are supposedly eating healthier lunches at school, but much of the fresh produce is ending up in the garbage.

It’s been years since the government has enforced more rigorous nutritional guidelines for school lunches. But even though schools have worked to find the taste in healthy, many students still aren’t on board.

Jaxson Hodges is the student body president at Madison Junior High, and Brooklyn Martinson goes to Rocky Mountain Middle School.

Both are typical eighth graders, but their feelings about school lunches are a little different.

“The salad is pretty good,” said Jaxson. “I have some ham on it and the potato soup which is really good, which I really like.”

“Well, I have pizza and fruit,” said Brooklyn.

But even though Jaxson gets his salad, and Brooklyn has her fruit, they say eating healthy isn’t anywhere on their classmates’ list.

“I will see friends that will eat soup and salad with me, but most of the time they all have pizza,” said Jaxson.

“Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s not so great,” said Brooklyn.

Jaxson said he doesn’t think he would even think to pick up a salad if he didn’t learn it from home.

“We always like to have salad at home too, so it’s normal, and it’s what I like to eat,” he said.

Familiar or not, students are required to take a fruit or vegetable, but whether they eat it is a different matter.

“It’s very frustrating because the whole purpose of our program is to see that students have a nutritious meal for the time that they’re in school,” said Heather Plain of District 93.

Whether kids eat it, the school still has to offer it, even if that means it goes in the trash, adding to the 133 billion pounds of food that get thrown away by Americans every year.

“I mean, you’re looking at salad bar day, which is two days a week, probably $60 to $70,” said Carla Hjelm, who serves kids in Madison School District.

She said she sees kids eat burgers and tater tots, leaving the greens and nutrients behind.

“I don’t feel very happy about it,” she said. “You hear about all these other countries that are starving, and we could feed a lot of people with what goes in the garbage.”

Studies show 3.9 million households around the nation are without healthy food options. On the other hand, kids who eat healthier meals at home are more likely to make healthy choices even when their parents aren’t around.

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