Pssst! Want some salt, kid?

“Healthy” cafeteria food is so bland that students are “bringing – and even selling – salt, pepper, and sugar” to make cafeteria food palatable, said John S. Payne, president of Blackford County School Board in Hartford City, Indiana, to a Senate subcommittee.

“Students are avoiding cafeteria food,” Payne said. “More students bring their lunch, and a few parents even ‘check out’ their child from campus, taking them to a local fast-food restaurant or home for lunch.”

Payne also said school fundraisers like bake sales, have been canceled due to the rules, and “whole-grain items and most of the broccoli end up in the trash” in his district.

Fewer children are eating school breakfasts and lunches, said Dr. Lynn Harvey, North Carolina’s chief of school nutrition services. “When it comes to whole grain-rich variations of biscuits, grits, crackers and cornbread, all too often, students simply toss them into the trash cans,” she said. New rules mean biscuits and muffins are “dense, compact, dry, and crumbly instead of light, moist, tender, and flaky.”

Breakfast at school — and at home

When all students get a free breakfast in their classrooms, instead of a cafeteria breakfast for low-income students who arrive early, they’re likely to eat it, reports the New York Times. In Newark, the number of students eating breakfast in school has tripled since the switch from cafeteria to classroom breakfasts. But 21 percent eat breakfast at home and at school, says the New York City health department. Breakfast in the Classroom is on hold in the Big Apple because of fears “all those classroom Cheerios and cheese sticks could lead to more obesity.”

Outside Public School 180 in Harlem, one of the schools that offer breakfast in classrooms, several parents expressed surprise on Thursday that their children might be eating two morning meals. Abraham El Bey said his son, Noah, 8, usually eats breakfast at home, but Noah immediately volunteered that he ate breakfast at school, too.

. . . Anne Morrison, whose son, Jude, 5, attends the same school, said she had adjusted what she fed him at home, knowing he would eat again at school.

“At school, it’s usually a muffin, a cheese stick and juice,” she said, adding, “I’m not so happy about the juice.”

About 40 percent of elementary and middle school students in New York City are overweight or obese, according to Linda I. Gibbs, the deputy mayor for health and human services.

The city is under pressure to add more high-poverty schools to the Breakfast in the Classroom program.

School meals help learning but not health

Federally subsidized school meals don’t produce healthier adults, a Georgetown study finds. But the meal program does lead to education gains, apparently because attendance goes up when parents know their kids will be fed at school. From Education Week:

Increasing the percentage of students exposed to the program in a given state by ten percentage points was linked to an added .365 years of schooling for women and a full year for men.

Eighty percent (some say 90 percent) of life is showing up.