JORDAN, Minn. (WCCO) — New federal guidelines are changing what students eat at school, and a lot of them aren’t happy about it.
The mandate, new this school year, says schools must keep lunches between 800 and 850 calories, depending on the student’s age. It also cuts back on the amount of proteins and carbohydrates they can have.
The new rules got major support from First Lady Michelle Obama, who wants to stop childhood obesity. The move is supposed to promote healthier eating, but students at Jordan High School say the food just doesn’t taste good.
“The lettuce — sometimes it’s really brown,” junior Madison Dean said. “It’s not very green sometimes.”
Says senior Kathyrn Mast, “When you walk into school, and go to lunch, it smells really good. But there’s no flavor to it.”
And freshman Jordan Jensen adds, “It’s gross. It doesn’t taste good.”
Jensen is quarterback of the ninth grade football team and says not only is the food gross, but it doesn’t provide enough calories to get him through three hours of football practice.
So, his mom, Kelly, brings his lunch every day.
“That’s just not enough, because he’s 6-foot-4, and he is 14, so he falls into a certain bucket of calories that he gets,” she said.
About two weeks ago, students at Jordan middle and high schools organized a boycott, bringing lunch from home for several days.
Principal Barb McNulty says she got the message.
“We responded by saying, ‘Tell us what you want, and we’ll see what we can do to help you,'” McNulty said.
Most students said they missed things like mac and cheese, mayonnaise and bacon bits. The cooks are working are looking into what they can bring back, but with federal mandates in place, some things are likely gone for good.
“It’s a lot of the extras that were taken away,” McNulty said. “And then we have to see how we can make them fit into the calorie requirements that we have. Some things won’t come back. I don’t think bacon bits are coming back.”
The Jordan School District is working with local chef Marshall O’Brien to come up with better recipes for the healthier food. The Superintendent tells WCCO that his schools are throwing away too much perfectly good food, because the law doesn’t allow them to donate it.