Pennsylvania School Sees Improvement After Dropping Michelle Obama's Lunch Program

February 22, 2017

A western Pennsylvania high school has experienced an incredible turnaround in its lunch program since abandoning Michelle Obama's National School Lunch Program.

The former first lady's lunch program was widely criticized for being unappealing to students, according to TheBlaze.




Parents were unimpressed with the product of the National School Lunch Program as well.

Since opting out of the federal program, Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City has increased lunch options for students and more than made up for lost federal funding, according to TribLive.

Students at the school waited longer in line for fewer meal choices with Obama's lunch initiative. Program rules required schools to offer healthier food options with less calories and more fruits and vegetables, but students would often throw fruits and vegetables in the garbage.

Brianna Lander, 18, a senior at Penn-Trafford, told TribLive that she has seen a change in students' lunchroom behavior since the school left the lunch program.

"The trash cans were always full, sometimes overflowing. You don't see that now. People would go up to the snack line and get random junk food, where now you can get an actual meal and eat it," she said.

The school has reportedly increased its lunch sales after remodeling its cafeteria after a food court to allow for a wider array of options, such as a deli and panini station.

"We've lost, to date, about $40,000 worth of reimbursement, but our sales are up about $50,000 over last year," district Business Manager Brett Lago told TribLive. "The participation has gone from about 25 to 45 percent, and we're still providing free lunches to all those students who would have been eligible under the school lunch program."

Students seem happy with more food options and are, according to Lander, "actually leaving full now." Others appear to feel the same way.

"You get to choose what you want instead of being sort of funneled in and only having one choice," said junior Chase Zavarella, 17. "I think everyone is happier with the new selection."

The federal lunch program boxed all students into the same eating standards, according to Lago, who said that is unrealistic for growing kids.

"Kids at that age, they're a little more informed and better at making smart choices for themselves because we still have a lot of healthy options. But as far as meal guidelines, you can't say that a 300-pound football player and a 90-pound cheerleader have the same [dietary] needs on a daily basis."