Improvements sought in federal school lunch program

Feb. 20, 2009
System should have higher nutritional standards

Launched in 1946 as a public safety net, the National School Lunch Program has turned out to be a poor investment. It should be redesigned to make our children healthier. Under the program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture gives public schools cash for every meal they serve — $2.57 for a free lunch, $2.17 for a reduced-price lunch and 24 cents for a paid lunch. In 2007, the program cost around $9 billion, a figure widely acknowledged as inadequate to cover food costs. But what most people don’t realize is that very little of this money even goes toward food. Schools have to use it to pay for everything from custodial services to heating in the cafeteria.

To read The New York Times op-ed column, click here.

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