School adds ice cream to menu to get kids to eat lunch
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CRESCENT SPRINGS, KY (FOX19) -
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When Kelly Bowman's daughter started at St. Joseph Elementary in Crescent Springs, Ky., she assumed she would buy her lunch almost every day.
“She forgoes things like chicken alfredo and grilled chicken, brown rice and broccoli,” Bowman said referring to the school's lunch menu. Instead, Bowman ends up packing lunch more often than not.
And Bowman's children aren't alone. A letter went out to parents at St. Joe's informing them that less students are buying lunches after federal nutrition guidelines changed in 2012. So in order to make ends meet, the school is adding ice cream to the menu.
"We want to keep the ability to supply the students with a hot lunch each day, and unfortunately this appears to be the only way to do that," school principal Cathy Stover wrote.
Gina Sawma, Director of Food and Nutrition for Fort Thomas Independent Schools, isn't surprised by the menu change. Her school system opted out of the National School Lunch Program at the beginning of the school year.
“The students were not liking the food,” said Sawma.
It was clear to Sawma that students couldn't stomach new nutrition guidelines that were put into place in 2012. That year, Sawma served 10,000 fewer lunches. The following year, that number dipped by 19,000. So this year, Fort Thomas Schools decided to go it alone.
“The tables are full and the kids are eating. They're happy.” Sawma said.
Fort Thomas schools are among 574 school systems across the country that have opted out of the federal lunch program.
The Covington Diocese said that's not something their schools are currently considering. For now, they'll try serving a reduced-fat, low-sugar ice cream, hoping that will lick their losses on school lunches.
"I think it's going to be a popular solution. I think it's going to be a way to get the kids to buy stuff from the school but I don't think it's going to be a healthy standard for them,” Bowman said.
If schools opt out of the federal lunch program, the district also loses federal funding for students who receive free or reduced lunches.
Fort Thomas schools are watching their numbers closely and will decide whether to continue to opt of the program in the coming weeks.