Healthy school meals are every parent’s dream, however, under First Lady Michelle Obama’s meal standards, kids are going hungry, and parents are not happy.

In response to the low calorie school lunch plan put in place by the First Lady, a video of children singing “We Are Hungry”, a play on the hit song “We Are Young”, has surfaced on youtube.

In January of this year, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and First Lady Michelle Obama revealed new standards for school lunches, in order to reduce carlorie intake and help kids eat healthier. The new meal requirements were the first in over 15 years to improve meal plan programs for the millions of kids around the world who take part in school meal plans.

The new standards came after the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was advocated by Michelle Obama as a component of her Let’s Move! drive, and made law by President Obama in 2010.

First Lady Michelle Obama, commented back in January:

“As parents, we try to prepare decent meals, limit how much junk food our kids eat, and ensure they have a reasonably balanced diet. And when we’re putting in all that effort the last thing we want is for our hard work to be undone each day in the school cafeteria. When we send our kids to school, we expect that they wont be eating the kind of fatty, salty, and sugar foods that we try to keep them from eating at home. We want the food they get at school to be the same kind of food we would serve at our own kitchen tables.”

The guidelines for school meals, included:
  • Lowering the amount of sodium, trans fat, and saturated fat
  • Only serving fat free and low-fat milk
  • Reducing calorie intake & making sure portion size is appropriate, according to the children’s ages
  • Making certain that kids are offered vegetables and fruit every day of the week
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, $3.2 billion will be spent in the next 5 years, in order to keep the standards in place.

The new guidelines for school meals across the nation are:
  • Kindergarten to 5th grade – 650 calories
  • 6th to 8th grade – 700 calories
  • 9 to 12th grade – 850 calories
Parents are saying that kids are coming home hungrier than before, and teachers are claiming that kids are hungry an hour after their lunch break, making them sleepy and unfocused. Many argue that even 850 calories (which are being given to high school aged children) are not enough for some growing adolescents, saying all children are different and need varying amount of calories a day, depending on their bodies.

The video “We are Hungry” was filmed by high school students and teachers in Kansas. Kansas Representative Tim Huelskamp said, “This is a great product of some small town students and their teachers.”

School workers seem to be on the same side as the kids, with one lunch worker commenting, “Its completely flip-flopped in terms of portion size. The new federal guidelines require vegetables to comprise the largest portion of a student’s lunch, while the entrée is now being treated as a side dish.”

Recent reports have said that some children simply don’t like the new items on the school menus. However, the bottom line is that children are going hungry and something need to be done in order to reach a middle ground.

Written by Christine Kearney