Some schools opting out of lunch program - abc27 WHTM

Some schools opting out of lunch program

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Beginning this month, the National School Lunch Program regulations are getting more strict. It is too strict for some schools and some are opting out.

Manheim Central High School is one of a few schools across the Midstate opting out of the national school lunch program. They are afraid that new regulations, called "Smart Snacks," will be too tough for students to swallow.

Schools will not be able to serve many popular a la carte items including a best seller at Manheim Central High School: French fries.

"I was just shown the revenue of French fries, for example, at the high school. We served over 16,000 servings of French fries. So, if we're looking at the revenue side of it, that's $16,000 in revenue," said David Ludwig, director of Food Services.

Ludwig said even salads will be on the chopping block because the dressing has too much fat.

Some students disapprove.

"Knowing that, for the same price, not being able to get the same stuff I'm normally able to get, I probably would've packed my own stuff," said Bridgette Fittery, a Manheim Central student.

That is what school officials are afraid of, so they are opting out of the program.

"If I go off the program, I lose my reimbursement of federal and state funds. If I stay on the program, I'm going to lose my a la carte sales," Ludwig said.

It is not just about food sales. With the smart snack program, the high school can offer a maximum of 850 calories for lunch. Ludwig said that does not meet the caloric needs of many students, especially student-athletes.

"Track and field. I throw jav, I long jump and triple jump, and then I'm on the swim team," Fittery said. "Usually, I have practices every single day after school. And then I have gym. I have two gym classes coming up this year."

"It takes a lot of thought to weigh the pros and cons in this situation. What it comes down to is what's best for the students and what's meeting the students needs," Ludwig said.

Despite those changes, the school will still offer the free and reduced lunches.

Manheim Central Middle school will participate in Smart Snacks. Ludwig said that is because middle school students typically are not as active as high schoolers.

The elementary schools will not participate in Smart Snacks because a la carte items are not offered there.

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