Students Trashing Federally Mandated Fruit

Federal mandates require more fruit in student lunches, but that fruit is ending up in the garbage.


An apple a day may be good, but two is too much for many students.

That’s what one Hamden High School senior told the Board of Education Tuesday.

Leah Kesselman is starting her second year as a student representative on the board, and one of her responsibilities is bringing her peer’s concerns to the attention of board members. And on Tuesday, at the board's first meeting of the new school year, she told them how students are upset that they are now forced to take two pieces of fruit as part of their lunches, and how that fruit usually ends up in the garbage.

“This year there are a lot of changes in the cafeteria,” she said, referring to new federal mandates that call for more fruit and vegetables to be included in school lunches. “I’ve been asked to bring up how kids are being forced to take two pieces of fruit, and subsequently they are being thrown out, and it’s an incredible waste.”

The district has no choice but to require the students to take the additional fruit, Business Manager Michael Belden said.

“We are seeing dramatic changes in what we are required to do on the state and federal levels,” he said, and there are more to come, including a decrease in sodium levels and even more fruit requirements.

“We are going to have to take a look and see what we can do” about the student’s concerns, he said.



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And it’s not just the high school students who aren’t fans of fruit, other educators said – the wasted fruit is a problem at all education levels, including at the elementary schools.

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink,” board chairman Michael D’Agostino said. “Maybe we could put it aside and donate it.”

But board member Jim Pascarella said that once fruit is handed out to students, it could probably not be taken back and donated.

“Once you hand it to someone, you can’t take it back,” he said. “If they chose not to accept it, you might be able to put it aside but once you hand it to someone you can’t take it back – you have to be careful with something like that.”

“Instead of years and years of fruit being thrown into bins to be fed to horses, maybe students should be talked to about making better choices,” board member John Keegan said. “If we hope to change eating habits, perhaps a better approach is to have teachers why this is being presented.

“I’m not saying it’s a great idea to force kids to take two fruits,” he said, “but it’s a mandate.”

It also might be a good idea to see what kinds of fruit the students would like to see offered, Kesselman suggested.

“I know I’m seeing an awful lot of apples and oranges,” she said. A wider variety, including items like fruit salad, might be more palatable and end up consumed rather than thrown away, she said.

The issue was referred to the board's Operations Committee, which will investigate and report back to the full board.

James September 13, 2012 at 02:30 PM
"...meaning more tax dollars down the road to treat their type 2 diabetes, attention deficity disorders, heart disease, high blood pressure...and weight loss surgery. " And your tax dollars would not pay for these without the (allegedly) Affordable Care Act. Education is the answer, but left to government schools, we should not expect a better success rate than in other areas of "education".
James September 13, 2012 at 02:44 PM
"they can choose to bring their lunch from home and eat whatever crap they want." Maybe. In North Carolina, the schools took the mandate to heart and check(ed?) the contents of student's lunches. If they determine the lunch does not meet government specifications, the lunch is discarded and the children are forced to eat the government lunch. In at least one case, the home lunch was discarded in favor of processed chicken-nuggets. "[...] lunch that I am providing, then we get to choose." This statement appears to be at odds with the mandate; local control is lost under a mandate. If you are referring to Federal control, then you may be right, but I don't recall the initiative being part of anyone's platform.
Angela September 13, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Maybe if you did watch Fox news you may learn something.
cheryl September 13, 2012 at 03:18 PM
The middle east is on fire, my suggestion is plan. Buy extra food, take some cash out of the bank to sustain you for about 3 months. Israel is surrounded and our embassy's are under attack. They are chanting dealth to America. This is Soros's MO. He always creates this chaos, destablizing countries before he strikes. Just prepare. At the most you will still have your $$$ and some extra food if nothing happens here. But the grand plan is it will happen here. We have a P that has encouraged this chaos. We had a stable middle east with Bubarak, & Gadaffi, Although they were bad guys - they both kept a relatively stable middle east. This guy is on the wrong side. JUST PREPARE. WARNING. If Bernake starts to digitize money again (QE3) prepare. Our dollar is down today. Chart a new course and survive the chaos.
Linda C September 13, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Mark the only reason I am even on this platform is to hope to encourage people like yourself to stop drinking the Kool-Aid and see the BIG PICTURE!! I do happen to LOVE AMERICA and ALL IT STANDS FOR!! Which has been up until recently (the past 4 years), having the option of CHOICE!! That to me is the ISSUE, not fruit or if an apple is more nutritional than chicken nuggets. I'm not an idiot, I am well aware of what children should and shouldn't be eating for their own good. However I don't agree that I NOR ANYONE ELSE HAS THE RIGHT TO MANDATE WHAT THEY CONSUME!! TODAY!!! One more right was taken from the citizens of NYC!! Banning large soft drinks!!! SOUNDS STUPID AND MINOR AND FOR THEIR OWN GOOD? NO !!!! It's not in our best interest for the GOVERNMENT TO HAVE CONTROL OVER INDIVIDUAL CHOICES -EVER!!! This is how it begins!! Hitler thought he knew what was best for GERMANY AND IT'S CITIZEN AS WELL! GET THE POINT? NOT ABOUT FRUIT!! IT'S ABOUT THE FUTURE OF AMERICA!! I'D RATHER HAVE FAT FREE KIDS, THAN SKINNY ONES STANDING IN POTATO LINES!! This isn't a Democrat, Republican fight, a liberal news or Fox news fight, it is the fight against GOVERNMENT CONTROL AND RIGHTS BEING SLOWLY TAKEN AWAY AND PEOPLE LIKE YOURSELF WHO ARE OK WITH THAT! SCARY!!


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