But he said he hopes the trend will continue downward this year, and over time, the younger students will adjust to the new menu.
“After the third grade, they’ve already established their eating habits,” he said. “So it’s a long-time venture here. I think the initiative is really meant for kindergarten to third grade. If you can teach them at that age group that vegetables are a good thing, they’re fun, they’re nutritious, then when they get a little older, they’ll be more used to seeing these things on their tray.”
School Committee members said they have heard from parents and students that the kids do not like some of the menu changes.
“I’ve heard plenty of students say they’re unhappy,” committee member Lynne Hajjar Kumm told the full committee last week.
Hajjar Kumm said the new guidelines are burdensome on schools and are an unwanted intrusion that is forcing schools to serve food many kids will not eat. “The federal government, in my opinion, is dictating to the districts what we can and can’t serve,” she said in an interview Thursday. “When you have to start having to limit not only sugar and fat but now salt, and it has to be fresh this and that, you’re going to find kids are not going to be as excited to get this.”
Purchasing school lunches slumped in the grammar schools too, a change Vespa told the School Committee last month was due to the new nutrition guidelines.
Several high school students on Friday said they know of a lot of people who have started bringing their own lunches to school. Two juniors, Brianna Woods and Anthony Nguyn, said they did not mind the change so much, but did not think just changing to wheat bread would solve the country’s weight problem.