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credit: dustyrat.com/thefederalistpapers

credit: dustyrat.com/thefederalistpapers

Wait a minute: how could this be possible in a people’s paradise implementing a pet (heh-heh) program of First Lady Michelle Obama?

San Francisco Unified School District serves more fresh food and a greater number of meals to their students since switching food providers last year, but the fresh-food program has led to some infrastructure challenges of its own including one problem with four legs and a very bad reputation for carrying disease: rats.

Students have enjoyed healthier breakfasts and lunches prepared and cooked locally by East Bay food provider, Revolution Foods. However, the success of the program — and the increase in fresh food on site – is highlighting a lack of refrigerators at schools as well as excess food waste, which may be factors in the increased presence of rodents at schools.

SFUSD has purchased new refrigerators for about 20 school sites since this past summer, but there’s still the need for more.

And who could possibly have foreseen this?

One of the challenges related to feeding students is rodents. A San Francisco Examiner review of health inspection data shows many rodent issues began in 2013, the same time more fresh food was introduced into schools as part of the food lunch reform popularized by First Lady Michelle Obama. The results of lunch reform are now being criticized by opponents using the hashtag #ThankYouMichelleObama.

The Examiner also cited a report by the district’s Student Nutrition Services as noting ‘With the increase in breakfasts served, there has been an increase in waste,’ which attracts more rodents.

Blythe stressed that pest management is nothing new to the district and claimed it is not the result of their new program.

Oh? San Francisco schools have always been rodent-infested? That’s reassuring. Meanwhile in Wisconsin, where apparently the schools aren’t rat-infested: 

A school board president in Wisconsin has decided to opt out of a program that provides federal funding for school meals because of new federal guidelines that are restricting what foods can be served in schools, both in and out of the cafeteria.

‘These guidelines seemed to be overly onerous; they weren’t meeting our community standard,’ Rick Petfalski of the Muskego-Norway School District tells National Review. ‘These are decisions that are best made at the local level.’

Guidelines implemented two years ago that determined what could be served in school cafeterias had already led students to cut back on the number of meals they were buying, and students were leaving the lunchroom hungry. But new guidelines that would have taken effect on July 1 pushed the federal control even further. The regulations ‘stepped out of the lunch room and into bake sales and concessions,’ he explained.

I’ve often reported on these issues (here, here and here), noting that the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010” has not produced healthier kids, and as with all fancifully named government programs, it has accomplished the opposite of what its name suggests, making kids hungrier as they ignore or throw away unpalatable, tiny school lunches.

The nutrition standards, which cover schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program, do not just determine which foods can be served for lunch in the cafeteria. As of July 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Smart Snacks standard will also determine nutritional standards for all foods and beverages sold during the school day in vending machines and even student bake sales or fundraisers.

Snacks must contain 200 calories, of which no more than 35 percent can come from fat or sugar. Sodium is capped at 230 milligrams. Student groups hoping to fundraise by selling cupcakes will now have to try to convince their fellow classmates to spend their money on fruit cups and granola bars.

The regulations leave some discretion up to the states, which decide how many daytime fundraisers per year can be exempted from the nutrition standards, but the guidelines encourage states to keep these unlawful bake sales ‘infrequent.’ Tennessee, for example, allows schools to sell food items that do not follow the requirements for 30 days each year. [skip]

But 32 states have decided that they will allow no exemptions to the federal requirements, according to a draft report from the School Nutrition Association. The Journal reports that some schools have already banned students from setting up tables to sell Girl Scout Cookies.

It’s little known, but the Girls Scouts are merely a front for an evil plot to make Americans so obese all they’ll do it sit around playing video games and paying attention only to reality TV. Darn! That’s already been accomplished!

Wisconsin has decided that schools can disobey the requirements twice a year.

Petfalski explained that had his school district continued to receive federal funding, the swim team, which has its meets right after school, wouldn’t have been able to serve hot dogs.  ‘Essentially they’re coming in and telling the swimming club that you need to find a new way of fundraising,’ he said.

Petfalski also said the federal guidelines were ridiculous because of their ‘one-size-fits-all’ nature, comparing it to a federal guideline that would make all shoes a size 10. He noted that the guidelines imply that a 225-pound linebacker needs the same calorie intake as a 110-pound freshman girl.

Of course, there can be no exceptions. All citizens must gratefully accept the mandates of those that know better than they how much food they’ll be allowed:

The Hunger-Free Kids Act also grants states the ability to impose fines on schools that do not abide by the Smart Snacks standards. The Journal noted that a high school in Utah was fined over $15,000 when the Utah Department of Education found during an on-site visit that the school was selling snacks and carbonated beverages near the school cafeteria during meal time, which is prohibited by federal requirements. The fine was later reduced to $1,297.

In the face of these fines, schools are figuring out how to monitor food sales on campus. Homemade goods pose a particular challenge, as it is difficult to determine their nutritional content. As a result, some schools have prohibited students from selling any homemade food. Instead they must sell processed items with available nutritional information.

‘I don’t think people 800 miles away should be telling us how to feed our children,’ Petfalski says. ‘We’re adults. We know what’s best for our students better than some unelected bureaucrat.’

He adds, ‘It’s big brother gone amok.

Of course it is. Just don’t tell Michelle Obama about the rats: they’ll end up on school lunch menus.