The Healthy Hunger-Free Act of 2010, which was implemented in school lunches this year, is causing hunger pangs for student athletes at one St. Joseph high school.
“The portions have been cut down and we’re just not getting as much,” said Daven Tomlinson, a linebacker on Central High School’s football team.
High school students across the country are now allowed only between 750 to 850 calories in the lunch program. Many student athletes are complaining that it’s not enough.
“Sometimes I just can’t even make it through practice,” said Christian Tremain, a cornerback and wide receiver for the Indians. “I’m not getting any energy at all.”
“During practice sometimes, you know, I just don’t have the nutrition in me, so I’d be very tired and weak going into it,” said Cecil Bratton, a Central defensive tackle.
St. Joseph School District Director of Nutrition Services Robin Rhodes said that for some students, the portions are too small.
“Especially when you’re talking some of those kids who might be weighing 225 pounds and they’re 6-foot-3,” Mr. Rhodes said. “Just by virtue of their size, their caloric intake might be greater. But then add to it their athleticism and the burning of the calories every day ... yeah that’s probably true.”
Students have been dealing the issue since school started in August and some are taking matters into their own hands.
Mr. Tomlinson said he went home after practice to raid the fridge. “I’ve eaten so much more food when I get home compared to the previous years.”
Hunter Ezzell, another Central lineman, said he usually brought food with him. “I can’t concentrate as much, I just don’t have enough calories to provide me through that whole practice,” he said.
Other students started bringing their own food.
“I just found that buying school lunches is just not an option anymore, I just cut it out altogether,” Mr. Tremain said.
Mr. Rhodes suggests students try taking an apple from the lunchroom with them, “that way they can have a nutritious snack and maybe tide them over through practice.”
The issue also affects parents who now have to spend more money at the store.
“My mom is always telling me, ‘Oh don’t eat as much, don’t eat as much.’ I’m like, ‘Mom, I don’t get enough food at school. I have to,’” Mr. Ezzell said.
The St. Joseph School District said its hands are tied.
“This is out of the federal laws from the USDA and it affects every school district in the country that accepts the moneys and reimbursements under the national school lunch program,” Mr. Rhodes said. “To get the money, we have to adhere to them. If we fail to adhere, we would lose the program and lose the reimbursements.”
Next year, the program also will limit the number of calories in school breakfast to a maximum of 600 per meal.