Free school meals would be a waste in more ways than one

On the one hand, it makes a lot of sense. According to a number of studies, hungry children do not do well in school because they have difficulty concentrating, get tired easily and lack motivation in class. These students do so poorly that they are at risk of failing grades.

Some students live in families so poor that school meals may be all they get for the day. This one incident will remain in my memory. A few years ago, a little girl got into trouble for trying to sneak her school lunch out of the building. He planned to take it to his little brother because it was his season.

This is why I believe people need food in schools for all students.

This is not a good decision.

America handles the junk food program like a duck handles a bowling ball, which is very difficult to do without fingers.

According to a Penn State University study, schools in the United States waste more food than any other school in the developed world. As noted in the study, half of the food served to students is thrown away.

This does not include food that goes bad or items that are thrown away because you know school children won’t eat them.

According to environmental nonprofit EarthShare, schools waste about 530,000 tons of food each year. This is equivalent to approximately 132 full-grown African elephants (four tons each).

That’s $9.7 million a day, or $1.7 billion annually, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Instead of spending money to throw away more food, we need to eliminate the waste first.

This is what the Food Waste Fighters project wants to achieve. The program is helping schools, including those in Cincinnati and Columbus, test strategies to ensure students eat what they eat.

In the project three schools, students were told that only milk or water bottles were available as drinks. They take a carton of milk, drink a little, and throw it away, resulting in 49,500 cartons of waste a year. We need to fix this.

Eliminating waste requires schools to offer a variety of foods that students can eat and to do a better job of controlling food quality.

Schools should be prepared to use programs such as Share the Table, where students can take a certain amount of uneaten food and share it with others who want help. This keeps students full and reduces waste.

Schools also need help. USDA needs to ease guidelines that frustrate schools. Schools are subject to dizzying rules, regulations, and unnecessarily complex language, such as “Vacancy Alert: Eliminating Dairy, Whole Grains, and Sodium Diets.”

Schools know what is best for their students and communities. Some people in Washington don’t spend time writing “vacatur.”

So don’t spend a lot of money. Reduce waste. Relaxing the rules. Schools should give food to those in need. They know better.

Ray Marcano’s column appears every Sunday in these pages. You can contact him [email protected].