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Students boycotting school lunches

NEW YORK, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- Many U.S. high school students are protesting new, healthier school lunches, and a professor says it may take a while for students to accept healthier food.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 required public schools to follow new nutritional guidelines this academic year, providing fruits and vegetables and limiting fat, sodium, and calories, The New York Times reported Friday.

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"Before, there was no taste and no flavor," said Malik Barrows, a senior at Automotive High School in Brooklyn. "Now there's no taste, no flavor and it's healthy, which makes it taste even worse."

Barrows said many students at his school end up throwing out their servings of fruits and vegetables, which has been the case nationwide, school officials have said.

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Nationwide, students have organized lunch strikes and boycotts.

Principal Shawn McNulty of Mukwonago High School, near Milwaukee, said participation in the lunch program had fallen 70 percent.

"There is a reduction in nacho chips, there is a reduction in garlic bread, but there's actually an increase in fruits and vegetables," McNulty said. "That's a tough sell for kids, and I would be grumbling, too, if I was 17 years old."

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Sandra Ford, president of the School Nutrition Association, said food service directors were using a variety of strategies to get students to eat the new lunches, including asking teachers to talk about healthy food in class, conducting taste tests, handing out free samples and educating students about how their food is grown and made.

Several food service directors said the best strategy may be waiting.

"If our task is to get young kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, we have to be willing to put up with the waste," William J. McCarthy, a professor of public health and psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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