CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Beginning last school year, the government's National School Lunch Program changed the guidelines for food that cooks can prepare for their students. The changes included more fruits and vegetables and smaller portions; new menus are supposed to be much healthier.
However, most students and their parents don't like the new food and would rather go back to the old meals.
"I think that they totally ripped our kids off when they went healthier," said Sandy Kidd, who has an 11th grader at Oak Hill High School. "They could cook a lot healthier with better choices."
"The chili every other day is too much," she complained. "I don't care how many times they change the name, it's still the same type of food. My daughter usually ends up taking her lunch most of the time now."
"I don't like the school food. It's nasty, and most of it stinks," said Valley High School freshman Courtney Dayhaw.
Students are supposed to go to school to learn. It has been proven that good meals improve focus. However, with the new menu, most students don't like the food offered, so they go without eating, hurting their focus and ability to learn.
Some of the students who don't like the food they're given for lunch are starting to bring their own food from home. This can be expensive for their families.
"My kids are coming home so hungry that I am spending a ton of extra money now on packing more daily lunches than ever," said Lisa Hierl-Johnston who has a child in kindergarten at New River Elementary and another in seventh grade at Collins Middle School.
"Free lunch? I don't think so!" she added. "And as far as that goes, whoever is 'funding' this 'free' lunch, I think they are just throwing away a LOT of money every day in those school trash cans! Who is that going to benefit? No one!"
Out of all the students asked about the new menu, Valley senior Emily Estep was the only one who said she liked it. Even then, she had some criticisms.
"I guess I like the new food," she said. "It's different, but some of the food is still greasy and too salty!"
Valley principal Lee Loy gave his opinion, too.
"I think the new menu is very nutritional and I, myself, eat it every day," he said. "However, I have seen a bigger amount being thrown away and wasted since everyone gets it free now. I feel that if they had to pay for it, they'd appreciate it more."