Student Well-Being

‘Nutritious’ Lunches Leave Student-Athletes Hungry

By Bryan Toporek — November 20, 2012 1 min read

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 got the “healthy” part right, but “hunger-free” is turning out to be subjective for student-athletes at one Missouri high school.

At Central High School in St. Joseph, Mo., athletes recently voiced their complaints to a local Fox station about being left hungry by the smaller portions allowed at lunch under the new law, which went into effect at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year.

“Sometimes I just can’t even make it through practice,” said Christian Tremain, a cornerback and wide receiver for Central, to the Fox affiliate. “I’m not getting any energy at all.”

The new regulations prohibit school cafeterias from serving lunches with more than 850 calories. A group of students in Kansas created a protest video earlier in the school year bemoaning the calorie limits, my colleague Nirvi Shah reported last month.

In response, U.S. Rep Steve King, R-Iowa, has introduced the No Hungry Kids Act, according to Nirvi, which aims to prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture from instituting calorie limits on school lunches. (The bill was assigned to a congressional committee on Sept. 14.)

The St. Joseph district’s director of nutrition admitted to KNPN that certain athletes (“kids who might be weighing 225 pounds and they’re 6-foot-3") might need more than the 850 calories that their lunches provide.

“Just by virtue of their size, their caloric intake might be greater,” said Robin Rhodes to the station. “But then add to it their athleticism and the burning of the calories every day ... yeah, that’s probably true.”

To combat their hunger, a number of students began bringing their own (additional) food, the station reported.

If other student-athletes are feeling newfound hunger pangs, they can always try what students in the Los Angeles Unified School District are doing: circumventing the new school lunches with snacks purchased through student stores.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.