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Healthier lunches unpopular with students

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Healthier lunches unpopular with students
First Lady Michelle Obama speaks alongside Walmart CEO Bill Simon as she announces her support for Walmat's new health initiative in Washington on January 20, 2011. Walmart has announced they will cut the fat, sugar and sodium in some packaged foods and will lower the price of fresh fruits and vegetables. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

CHICAGO, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Officials with Chicago Public Schools said school lunch sales have dropped about 5 percent since the introduction of a healthier menu.

The district stopped offering daily nachos, doughnuts and Pop-Tarts in favor of healthier options at the start of the school year. District officials say figures from September to December show lunch sales were down about 5 percent, about 20,000 lunches per day, from the previous year, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday

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The caterer employed by the district, Chartwells-Thompson, said the new meal options exceed U.S. Department of Agriculture meal standards. However, the meals, which now include things like broccoli, peas, carrots, zucchini, rice and beans with less salt and sugar, have proven unpopular with students.

"If they're going to feed us healthy, they need to feed us something good that's healthy," said Mijoy Roussell, a Claremont Academy sixth-grader who replaced lunch with a candy packet. "This food is disgusting, which is why I'm not eating lunch."

Louise Esaian, who oversees the school district's food service program, said it is challenging to introduce new concepts to students.

"We are thrilled that 70 percent of CPS students choose to eat lunch at school," she said. "While there has been a slight decline in participation, it does not reflect the measurable and positive gains we have made as a school district in making improvements to the nutritional quality of our school breakfast and lunch programs."

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