The latest conflict over New York City school cafeterias has the city dishing out fewer calories than federal nutrition guidelines recommend, leading critics to argue that the city is more worried about fat kids than starving ones. "Our mentality is to feed food to children, not nutrients to astronauts," the New York Department of Education's Eric S. Goldstein told The New York Times' Al Baker. In swapping turkey bacon for pork bacon, baked potatoes for fries, and introducing salad bars, among other changes, the city is now offering meals that come in below federal calorie requirements set in 1994. New federal guidelines this year reduced those calorie requirements, but they still require higher calorie counts for older students than New York's schools are offering.
New York City Coalition Against Hunger director Joel Berg, told The New York Times' Al Baker that the city's calorie-light menu planning was "based on the city’s absurd belief that hunger no longer exists among children, despite federal data that proves that one in four New York City children live in food-insecure homes."
This latest school cafeteria spat is the second time the City of New York's anti-obesity measures have conflicted with federal guidelines. In April, the city's schools said they didn't want to offer breakfast in the classroom under a federal program because too many kids would eat the meal twice -- once at home and again in class. Linda Gibbs, Bloomberg's deputy mayor for health and human services, said at the time that while City Hall doesn't want kids to go hungry, it also “wants to be cautious that our good intentions don’t inadvertently exacerbate the obesity issue.”