New lunch guidelines spark controversy nationwide; local schools see positive response

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News 12 This Morning / Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. -- New school lunches this year are causing some controversy across the country. Some students are complaining that the new guidelines don't offer them enough food.

In protest to the new guidelines, students at a Kansas high school rewrote the words from Fun's "We are Young" to "We are Hungry." With over 850,000 views, it's a video that's been seen across the nation. Their main complaint is that active students aren't getting enough calories to make it through the day.

The lyrics say, "Give me some seconds / I need to get some food today / my friends are at the corner store / getting food so they don't waste away ... So if by the time you go to practice and you feel like falling down ... tonight we are hungry."

This year's new lunch guidelines serve high school students 850 calories each day and the big question is: Is that enough?

"We have calorie ranges for elementary, middle and high school and the calorie restrictions are a little tighter than they used to be," said Jane Wiggins, Columbia County director of School Nutrition.

She admits the high school calorie restrictions may not be enough for the most active students.

"What they've done is they've just taken the middle of the road, between a very inactive child to a very active, more of the moderate activity, so if you have a student athlete, it may not be quite enough calories for them to make it through the afternoon," she said.

For those students she suggests bringing a nutritious snack from home to get through practice, but so far schools in our area haven't heard any complaints.

"We've had very positive response to this new change," Wiggins said.

The schools check students trays every day looking at what's being eaten and what's not.

"I talk to the students, I talk to the people who are running the dishroom that see the waste that comes back," Wiggins said. "We have seen very little waste."

Aiken and Richmond county schools say they haven't heard any complaints either. Richmond County does waste study where they look through the trash to see what is and isn't being eaten. They say the only request they've gotten is for french fries more than once a week.

The new guidelines offer five components (protein, grain, fruit, vegetable and milk) and the students must take three and one must be a fruit or vegetable. Some of the changes they've made have been simple, changing pizza crust to whole grain and the bread to whole wheat.

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