Brown Baggers Unite: Why Our Kids Are Boycotting School Lunch

   By SheSpeaksTeam  Oct 24, 2012

School lunch isn’t what it used to be and for some kids the change hasn’t been pleasant. The new federal guidelines for lower calorie, healthier school lunches we recently reported about has some kids cringing and giving up school lunch all together in favor of packed lunches from home.

The New York Times reports about students who are rejecting the new school lunches with some even calling for a ban on their cafeteria fare. Many are complaining about the lack of taste of their lower sodium choices and others say the portions just aren’t big enough to get them through the day. The prices of their lunches have also gone up about 10 cents a meal which angers students who are seeing smaller portions.

Across the nation kids are taking to Facebook and Twitter to complain about their lunches which are now healthier and smaller than ever before. One Brooklyn student, Malik Barrows, who has seen classmates throw away their lunches explains, “Before, there was no taste and no flavor. Now there’s no taste, no flavor and it’s healthy, which makes it taste even worse.”

And schools are feeling the effects of all of the students who have rejected their lunches and have opted to “brown bag it”. One school in a suburb of Pittsburg reports a 70% reduction of student participating in the lunch program. One Milwaukee high school principal, Shawn McNulty, is not surprised by his students’ reaction to healthier food. McNulty says, “There is a reduction in nacho chips, there is a reduction in garlic bread, but there’s actually an increase in fruits and vegetables. That’s a tough sell for kids, and I would be grumbling, too, if I was 17 years old.”

What do you and your kids think of the new school lunches?

Do you think students will benefit from these healthier meals in the long run or do schools still have a ways to go to make the food more enticing?

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jemappel by jemappel | Rye Brook, NY
Nov 26, 2012

It's hard to know. If kids are bringing healthy lunch from home, then it doesn't really matter if they're buying school lunch or not. The question is if they are eating healthfully over all and/or if food is being wasted because they won't eat it. There are too many factors to evaluate whether it's good or bad.

tkharmonic by tkharmonic | CHARLOTTE, NC
Nov 13, 2012

I wonder if some of this is in the preparation. I agree completely with reduced salt/sodium, but there are many other spices that can be used to flavor food. Are they using these? My son eats lunch at school 3-4 days a week, but takes his lunch on the "gross lunch day" that is corn dogs or nachos or tacos. He always eats whatever fruit he can get, and often ends up with other kids giving him their fruit. I don't think they should be allowed to throw their food away though, if it's a whole apple or something than can be rewashed and eaten by someone else.

missmandy23 by missmandy23 | MERRILL, WI
Nov 03, 2012

Our school district has went healthy in the last few years. I didn't think it was unhealthy before, they had fruits and veggies. I have gone to have lunch w my son, and a lot of it is something i really wouldn't eat myself. We don't like wheat bread in our home. I have been making his lunch because this way I know he is eating. Sandwich, yogurt, crackers and sometimes a pudding. I would rather aee the school with healthy, but not super healthy food that the kids will eat and not throw away.

babsywabs by babsywabs | Notre Dame, IN
Oct 29, 2012

If parents find that school lunches are unhealthy, it should be up to the parents and the local school district to fix the problem. School lunches should NOT be under the mandate of the federal government! Parents need to be interested and involved enough in their children's diets to either send lunch with them or demand change. Unfortunately, too many people are content to sit back and let others make decisions for them, instead of being active participants in the decisions that affect them and their children. How I choose to feed my child is not up to "them".

BeckieKind by BeckieKind | Fortuna, CA
Oct 29, 2012

I actually work at a school and closely with the school lunch program. We are a very small school district so I am sure it is different than in big districts. I never saw our lunches as being that unhealthy. Sure they had pizza on some days, but they had a nice salad with it. They might have a tater tot casserole on another day but vegies were served right along with it. The kids had to take from atleast 3 food groups to make a complete lunch. Most of the kids that eat at the school have breakfast and lunch, because that might be the only place they are getting a meal. As a parent, though, if I wasn't happy with what was being fixed in the cafeteria, I would send a lunch with my child.

ashley525 by ashley525 | PERRYVILLE, KY
Oct 24, 2012

My girls really dislike school food and if they have something tjhey can "stand", it just doesn't fill them up. When my children got home from school, they were starving. Not just wanting a snack to hold them over, they were wanting full meals to fill them up. I also noticed that since the changes in school food, they now won't even eat certain foods at home, even though it tastes very different from the schools food. They have the fear of tasting the same nasty food at school. For example, they used to love eating my mashed potatoes and green beans. Now, they wont eat mashed potatoes and green beans. When they eat nasty food once, and they see it again, they will not "try" that food again. It is also not giving them a balanced nutrition when they are starving to death all day at school because the school lunch just isn't fulfilling. I always pack my girls lunch now.

fajaer by fajaer | HOPEWELL, NY
Oct 24, 2012

My child only buys the pizza but its on whole grain bread and its served with veggies on the side and he loves it. I've never seen it in person so I can't comment on size or how appetizing it looks!

dhdozier by dhdozier | Ludowici, GA
Oct 24, 2012

I am a teacher and mother of 2 middle school age children so I am no stranger to this topic. I am not happy with some of the new standards for school lunches - the portions are ridiculously small. Seriously, the "experts" suggest that 2 oz of meat should be considered a healthy portion - what?? On the other hand, I do like that more fresh fruits are offered to the kids, especially with super market prices for fruit I doubt that an income strapped family is able to afford the luxury of fresh fruit. I am hoping that a happy medium can be reached and that our kids don't totally skip meals - I don't care how you feel about the topic, hungry kids are not ready to learn to do their best!

tara19652006 by tara19652006 | ALBUQUERQUE, NM
Oct 24, 2012

I am liking the new lunches as they are more like what my kids are used to eating. The veggies are not cooked in butter and the food is healthy. Kids are complaing as they are used to junk food. They need to give the lunches a chance. The only problem is my 13 year old complains the lunch does not fill him up. My 13 year old is active and a healthy weight. The lunches should include bigger fruit and veggie servings. Also kids need more time to eat their lunch as my five year old never has enough time to finish his lunch. Health food takes longer to chew.

chris2365 by chris2365 | Chico, CA
Oct 24, 2012

I had to be tough with my boys (9 and 11). If they don't eat breakfast (not Pop-Tarts, please!) and brush their teeth before school, no video games after school. I've been packing their school lunches for two years and now my twin nephews, who are living with us while they finish their business degrees, are packing their lunches. School lunches are too expensive and frankly, not very healthy. Work with your kids on figuring out pack-your-own options that are tasty and healthy. Maybe your daughter will pack decent food that actually tastes good.

mombits by mombits | LINCOLN, NE
Oct 24, 2012

Turns out my daughter has been boycotting the meals without telling me. I noticed her lunch money account wasn't going down. Then she made herself a lunch a couple of times. When I asked her about it, she said that the lunches were disgusting and she'd rather not eat than eat what they had made. This does NOT thrill me because she isn't a big breakfast eater, so I think she is going a really long time without eating. Sometimes I can get her to eat in the morning but many times not, so on those days she might be hungry all day. How is she supposed to concentrate on school work?