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A high school in Montana decided not to accept $117,000 in federal money from the National School Lunch Program spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama, and now the school’s students feel more compelled to buy lunch on campus.
The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program that serves nutritionally balanced lunches to over 100,000 public and non-profit private schools across the nation. However, Bozeman High School decided to cut the program to lure students to stay on campus for lunch. The students were eating off campus and were therefore not utilizing the benefits of the program.
“Our traffic is way up,” Bob Burrows, Bozeman High School food service director, told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “[We serve] over 1,000 [customers a day] regularly. That wasn’t the case [last year].” In 2014, the high school reportedly had a population of 1,973 students.
Last year, the Bozeman school district earned $37,000 in lunch sales. This year, the school district has profited over $54,000 in sales from “extra food,” which are items that the federal government does not consider to be part of a complete meal. This includes cookies and sandwiches.
Bozeman High School allows students to eat off campus. Because students were upset that cookies, Gatorade, Rice Krispies Treats, brownies, and ice cream sandwiches were not as readily available after the switch to the National School Lunch Program, most of them opted to buy lunch at neighboring fast food restaurants.
Now that the program has been removed, school lunch options include chili nachos with low-fat cheddar and multigrain tortilla chips, and ham and pineapple pizza. Bozeman High School is implementing its own set of nutritional guidelines, too. Rather than following the National School Lunch Program’s requirement to serve meals between 725 and 850 calories, their goal is a minimum of 825 calories.