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Local district drops out of federal lunch program

FORT THOMAS, Ky. (Jeff Hirsh) -- The first day of school is always exciting. At Highlands Middle School, the first day of school lunch is even more exciting than it was last year:

The Fort Thomas district dropped out of the federal school lunch program, a well-intentioned program which saw lots of good food go straight in the trash.

Teachers noticed, eating more often from their own salad bar where cheese and croutons were allowed.

"The fact that they were opting for that instead of the school lunches the kids were getting tells you something," said Carla Menz, a seventh grade teacher.

The new federal rules began in 2011. Portions were calorie controlled. Kids were hungry. More whole-grain products went against the grain of taste, like bread sticks

"I took a bite of it and I kept chewing and chewing. And it never dissolved in my mouth. I do not feed anything to the kids that I would not eat myself, or my own kids," said Gina Sawma, Food & Nutrition Director.

Dropping out of the federal program will cost Fort Thomas a quarter of a million dollars, which should be recouped by selling more things the kids will actually eat. That includes something nutritious, with fruit, better-tasting whole grains, veggies and bigger portions for active kids.

Still, no soft drinks and no candy.

"We're not going to give the kids junk. That's not our purpose," said Sawma.

They're serving treats like lowfat frozen yogurt -- only three grams of fat and only 75 calories.

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