New USDA Guidelines are 'thrown to waste' at Hickman High School
COLUMBIA - Hickman High School students and parents are speaking out against new USDA food guidelines that mandate students to purchase either a fruit or vegetable during school lunch hours. As the new policy takes affect nationwide this year, Hickman is now the scene of an attitudinal shift from the benefits of eating healthy to the reality of much wasted food.
The USDA policy comes as a first to students attending schools that receive federal funding. Its origin spins off a four-to-six year reactivation bill from the U.S. Congress by looking for ways to slight increasing obesity rates and improve students' eating habits as research suggests from the Institute of Medicine.
Kelly Temporal, a senior at Hickman High School, believes this intentional push for students eating healthier as implemented by Nutritional Services for Columbia Public Schools is far from effective.
"I don't really like that they're making us grab a fruit or a vegetable because they're basically giving trash out," Kelly said.
"Kids that are forced to grab that aren't gonna eat it."
Her opinion is just one of many who eat around the 'forced-feeding' policy that even has parents wondering if its implementation inadvertently defeats itself.
"Of course, my son's attitude about is, you know, he'll do it like he do at home, 'If I don't want it, I won't eat it,'" said Gwendolyn Lee at the first Hickman PTA meeting. Her child is a sophomore attending Hickman.
She said her son actually skips Hickman High Schools lunches to eat across the street on Business Loop.
"He'd rather eat at McDonald's or Taco Bell or something," she said.
The effort to promote a healthier lifestyle is just one facet in mind as Nutritional Services for Columbia Public Schools enforces the new policy. Director Lana Fullum believes this extra push will alert students to the risks of a poor diet lifestyle. According to Director Fullum, starting these healthy eating habits early is key, even for students like Kelly.
"I think, you know, not that I'm for being forced to do anything, but, at least, being forced to take notice now may affect her in the future," she said.
"This is being emphasized for a reason and maybe her questioning, 'Why this is being emphasized?' will lead her in the future to make better lifestyle choices."
Talks of the new policy generating waste, however, are far from popular. That exception comes to those who rummage through the muck and leftovers of once 'healthy' school lunches.
"I'm ashamed that, you know, that they waste so much," said Hickman custodian Tres Stone.
"It's just really sad to see all the food that's just thrown away. Sometimes I see full trays thrown away."
Director Fullum says in the absolute "worst case scenario," the USDA would suspend the policy's implementation in light of much needed "tweaks."
But for Kelly, the only lunch that doesn't go to waste is the one she brings from home. If it were the other way around and she had to abide by the policy, wasting food still wouldn't be an option for her.
"It's really wasteful to just throw it away, but I wouldn't be happy that I'd been forced to grab some carrots or broccoli," she said.
Click here to see the Nutritional Services mandate in Columbia Public Schools.
EXTRA: (SHOOTING STANDUP VIDEO)