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Daily Talker: Fewer Kids Eating School Lunches

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This week, thousands of people who oversee what meals are served to your kids at school are in Boston for their annual conference. Members of the School Nutrition Association will be sampling recipes and discussing healthy alternatives to popular foods, as well as how to lower costs.

But the organization has come under fire in recent months. After initially supporting the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which required more fruit, vegetables and whole grains in school meals, and less sodium, sugar, and fat, it has turned against the new rules.

Since the first round of changes took effect in 2012, more than 1 million fewer students buy lunch at school each day, according to Diane Pratt-Heavner, a spokeswoman for the School Nutrition Association. She says the group supports getting kids to eat healthier, but says many districts are losing money because students aren’t buying the healthier lunches, or are throwing away fruits and vegetables to the tune of $684 million.

“How can we call these standards a success when they are driving students away from the program?” she said.

Republicans in Congress are considering a bill that would delay further rule changes, but First Lady Michelle Obama is fighting those efforts.

“The last thing that we can afford to do right now is play politics with our kids’ health, especially when we’re finally starting to see some progress on this issue,” Mrs. Obama said.

What do you think should be done to get kids to eat healthier foods at schools? Are stronger guidelines from the federal government enough?

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