GOP rep: Let local officials regulate school lunches instead of feds

Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) on Friday said that school boards and local education officials should manage lunch programs instead of having to comply with federal rules.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires school lunch programs that receive federal dollars to provide healthier meals in an effort to combat childhood obesity. 

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However, Agriculture Department statistics indicate fewer children are now participating in the National School Lunch program. Additionally, many school districts have struggled to cover the costs of uneaten fruits and vegetables.

As many children go back to school, Smith argued that the federal regulations weren't working.

"Since the new school lunch requirements were implemented many students tell me meals are not adequate, and they are left hungry. Administrators tell me the new requirements are straining already stretched school budgets. And parents are faced with difficult choices," Smith said.

The Nebraska Republican said the school lunch program should be run by individual school systems.

"We can all agree children need adequate and nutritious meals. As is too often the case, these worthy goals cannot be achieved by federal mandates," Smith said. "Decisions of how to spend limited resources are best left to local officials and school boards."

In June, the House began consideration of an appropriations bill providing funds for the Agriculture Department that would give temporary waivers to school lunch programs that have been operating at a net loss for the last six months. But the bill was later pulled from the floor without explanation.