School lunch protest video: “We are Hungry” parodies new menus (+video)
School lunch calorie limits leave bitter taste with some Kansas students: "We are Hungry" video is a protest of new federal menu guidelines.
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“Here we are in the Wheat State … and I’ve heard some very sad stories recently about school lunches,” said Kansas state Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler.
One was from Wallace County High School in Sharon Springs, Kan., where students and teachers created a YouTube parody, “We Are Hungry,” that blasts the new calorie guidelines:
Give me some seconds, I,
I need to get some food today
My friends are at the corner store
Getting junk so they don’t waste away?…
The video, based on the hit by the band "Fun." – “We Are Young” – shows students staring woefully at lunch trays, stuffing lockers with junk food, collapsing during volleyball practice and crawling on the ground in exhaustion.
“There’s just not enough” food, said 16-year-old Callahan Grund, a football player and star of the video. By Friday it had garnered 48,000 views – more than 62 times the population of Sharon Springs, a farming town not far from the Colorado border.
“When you have chores in the morning and football practice after school, you need energy. … This doesn’t cut it,” Grund said.
The major sticking point: a new federal rule that sets calorie maximums for school lunches — 650 calories for elementary-schoolers, 700 for middle-schoolers and 850 for high-schoolers.
Protesters in Kansas and elsewhere say 850 calories isn’t enough for some high-schoolers, particularly athletes who can burn calories by the thousands.
State education and nutrition officials say portion sizes at most districts haven’t changed. Students in Wichita, Kan., for instance, can get more food at lunch this year because there’s a wider array of options, a la carte items and nearly unlimited servings of fruits and vegetables.
Pockets of protest seem to be coming from districts that once ignored calorie maximums, said Cheryl Johnson, director of child nutrition and wellness for the Kansas Department of Education.
Until this fall, districts that opted to spend more could supplement standard school lunches, serving larger portion sizes and offering extra servings of entrees, breads and other high-calorie items.
“Some schools were providing excess food, above the requirements and the nutrition guidelines,” Johnson said. “That’s the reason we’re seeing some comments and protests.
“For the most part, we feel the new guidelines and menus are being well-received.”
The new guidelines – the first major overhaul of school meals in 15 years – also require cafeterias to serve less fat and sodium and more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Linda O’Connor, an English teacher at Wallace County High School, penned the “We Are Hungry” parody after a colleague, Brenda Kirkham, posted a photo of her school lunch on Facebook and sparked dozens of outraged comments.
The lunch included one cheese-stuffed bread stick, a small dollop of marinara sauce, three apple slices and some raw spinach. Kirkham supplemented the lunch with items from a salad bar, including cubes of ham, bacon bits and dressing, which were available only to teachers.
“I asked why the sauce had no meat and I was informed that due to the breadsticks containing cheese, the meat would put us over the guidelines for protein,” Kirkham wrote.