The school lunches at Fort Thomas Independent Schools in Fort Thomas, Kentucky are about to get a make-over, but it's not the kind you might think. While school districts across the country are revamping their menus to make them healthier - and in compliance with the latest federal school lunch standards - the Kentucky school district is taking a different approach. They're ditching the whole wheat pizza crusts and extra veggies and piling on more French Fries. They are also turning down the federal dollars that would have come from meeting the school lunch standards.
Why would a school district choose to serve less healthy lunches? Administrators said the kids just didn't like them. They either threw the food away or they didn't buy it in the first place. Instead, they brought lunch from home or hit the nearby fast food joints. So they were still getting their fries - but the school district wasn't getting any money for them.
The 2,800-student district joins a small but growing number of school districts across the country that are opting out of the federal dollars provided with participation in the lunch program. School administrators say the stricter new standards that went into effect last year are just too restrictive, forcing schools to serve foods that kids just don't want to eat. And even though the schools lose money by not participating in the program, they think it will be a wash if they can select lunch menu foods that kids will actually want to buy.
Fort Thomas insists that it will still honor the free and reduced lunch menu fares that were given to students that qualified due to financial need. The school district won't get reimbursed by the federal government for these meals. But since only 17 percent of the kids qualify for free or reduced lunches, the district is willing to eat the cost if it means more freedom with the menu.
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