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School Lunch Strike Planned By Par Hills Students

Some students upset about getting less and paying more for the new reportedly healthier lunches being served in Par-Troy schools.

The new, reportedly healthier school lunch program being offered in township public schools is not receiving an enthusiastic welcome from many students at Parsippany Hills High School. Two students, upset over smaller portions and higher prices, aren't taking the matter lying down: They're organizing a strike.

"On Friday, we're asking everybody not to buy lunch or anything from the cafeteria," explained organizer Brandon Faris, a 17-year-old senior. "Nothing from the snack line, no water, no cookies. Not a dime will be spent in the cafeteria."

For the past week, Faris and junior Nicholas Caccavale have been handing out fliers and spreading the word. The duo has also launched a Facebook group, PPHS Lunch Strike (yes, the title contains a typo), that has more than 1,000 members.

"We want to raise awareness and let everyone know that this isn't right," he said.

The students are rearing up against the new program instituted at the start of this school year by Pomptonian Food Service.

Last June, Pomptonian introduced a new lunch program to the Parsippany Board of Education. The goal of the plan—which is mandated under the new Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, a federal law designed to address childhood obesity—is to encourage students to eat healthier lunches at school.

The district has no choice but participate in the program. School districts that do not comply can be levied fines.

Company president Mark Vidovich told the school board last summer that the goal of the program is to promote consumption of fruits and vegetables, to limit bread and meat portion sizes and to cut the amount of fat available in the standard school breakfast and lunch.

Vidovich announced then that because the plan focuses most heavily on costly fruits and vegetables, the law says that the minimum lunch price charged must be raised to $2.51 to cover the additional costs required.

Students are not forced to limit themselves in their food choices. However, if they want additional items, such as cheese to top a hamburger, they must pay extra for it.

Mandated or not, the new system is not winning favor with many students.

"For the past three years, lunch prices were significantly lower," Faris said. "This year, the price of the average lunch went from $2.50 to about $4. One sandwich can cost $4 or $4.50."

He explained that much of the increased cost comes from purchasing add-ons, such as cheese, snacks, beverages—and, for some, an additional sandwich.

"After they eat lunch, a lot of people go back to buy more, because they are still hungry," he said. "They want to actually be full when they finish eating."

Faris said he is hearing a lot of students—and teachers and staff members—say that they will brown bag it on Friday to ensure that the PHHS cafeteria does as little business as possible.

"Students say they would rather save their money," he said, adding that they can use the same money to buy food outside of school. "We'd get more food for their money by buying lunch somewhere else."

Faris said what he really wants to see is "an open campus at lunchtime, so if people want to get a sub or pizza outside of school, they can."

"We really would rather not pay a ridiculous price for not so great a lunch," he said. "We're in high school—we want a full meal."

Faris, who has lived in Parsippany since kindergarten and is planning to have a career in law enforcement, said he's getting nothing but positive reinforcement from the adults in his life.

"Teachers are saying they're proud of us," he said. "Same with my mom. She said she was proud and told me to go for it."

Patch awaits responses from district administration and Pomptonian.

Told of the forthcoming strike, Board of Education member Anthony Mancuso said the program was in place because it was mandated by law.

"We have to follow the law," he said.

However the powers that be feel, the students, said Faris, are stoked for the strike.

"Every day, more and more people have been added to the Facebook group. It's really growing," he said.

Steven Colpar September 28, 2012 at 01:55 PM
I am awfully bright sir/ma’am… as evidence the lengthier collection of vowels and consonants in my name. It was nice of your parents to make it easy for you. But hey – we’re on the same side here compadre. I too am fearful and will fight with every last breath that socialist puppet master that wants to take the place of our responsible parents and stop them from their god-given right to allow their kids to eat unhealthy things! Freedom! Freedom!
Steven Colpar September 28, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Jeff you discount the Democrats’ secret ventriloquism weapon on Senate voice votes. Oh yeah… don’t think we don’t know…. We’re on to these Freedom haters.
g September 28, 2012 at 02:36 PM
A newly released survey of high school students said 28 percent reported being obese or overweight, up from 23.5 percent in 2003. Why is it that 72% of the high schol students who are not considered obese or overweight must suffer because of the 28%? A skinny student wants to know why he is being forced to eat the same menu what obese children are forced to eat.
Lauren September 28, 2012 at 03:18 PM
I would like to go back to comment #1 from "On the Beach" The free and reduced must go on a seperate line? How appaling is that!!! Must the entire school know who's family is having a tough time making ends meet? Should be a HIPAA rule against that. As for the strike, Great Job Boys!! If you look in the dumpsters after school, i'm sure you will find all the fruits and vegetables that did not sell. Maybe they should stop selling french fries deep fried in oil and come up with some creative nutritious way of doing french fries, maybe baked? Stop selling the snapple and gatorades, which are full of High Fructose Corn Syrup. Eating healthy doesn't have to be painful OR expensive. Maybe rethinking on how to prepare the meals would be better. As for the additional cost! Who's pocket is that going into?
Steven Colpar September 28, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Wow g – this is ground breaking! Then the “obesity epidemic” reported by the liberal media is really just a self-image problem. That changes everything. You’re right – why should kids who think they’re skinny suffer because of the ones that undeniably know they’re fat!
clyde donovan September 28, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Maurice, that's actually a good idea. There's nothing in the federal constitution that requires government to educate children. It would be a stretch to claim states have the right to establish schools under the 10th amendment.
g September 28, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Steve colpar, I have no idea what you are tallking about in your post of 11:24.a.m. I didn't say kids who think they are skinny , I said a skinny student wants to know.
Steven Colpar September 28, 2012 at 04:13 PM
(g 10:36 am) "A newly released survey of high school students said 28 percent reported being obese or overweight, up from 23.5 percent in 2003." Let's break it down "survey said" "28 percent reported" (that is "students" reported - or "self-assessed" themselves as obese).
Beth Bluj September 28, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Makes no difference - government should not be telling us what we can/cannot eat. It is up to parents to parent, schools to teach, and government to govern - not dictate. If the government is so concerned about obesity maybe they should be funding more after school programs, more sports programs in schools, and more work out facilities in schools.
g September 28, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Steve Colpar, Report: One-Third of U.S. Children Are Overweight or Obese By Bryan Toporek on July 11, 2011 11:53 AM More than one-third of U.S. children between ages 10-17 are considered obese (16.4 percent) or overweight (an additional 18.2 percent), according to a report Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader released last week by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. That percentage has nearly tripled in the past 10 years, according to former Surgeon General David Satcher.
Steven Colpar September 28, 2012 at 06:59 PM
G - (I’ll throw you some kudos by capitalizing) Thank you for clarifying your citation (by cutting and pasting a completely different article)…. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/schooled_in_sports/2011/07/report_one-third_of_us_children_are_overweight_or_obese.html See you alarmist liberals? There’s no problem here. The obesity rate only tripled in the past ten years. BTW – in my day Sears called these kids “husky”. But G – re: last paragraph “The writers of the report make six key recommendations about how to reduce the prevalence of obesity in the U.S., including expanding the amount of physical activity in school and in out-of-school programs, ensuring that all food and drinks sold in schools meet or exceed the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and reducing youths' exposure to the marketing of unhealthy foods.” What the heck G? More big government? When will it end?
schabadoo September 28, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Do these kids not know that they're allowed to bring your own lunch? How lazy is the football player to go into school early, burn over 3000 calories, but not pack a lunch? Shouldn't he be on a special diet with that sort of regimen? What a bunch of whiners. I went to the Hills-the lunch they offered was awful pizza or the hoagie.
schabadoo September 28, 2012 at 11:14 PM
No one is telling them what they can/cannot eat. They can bring a lunch. Not complicated.
schabadoo September 29, 2012 at 02:48 AM
These lazy kids won't pack their own lunch and need the school to give them whatever they want. Great to see you stand up for these lazy socialists!
Chris September 29, 2012 at 05:40 AM
Not for nothing Clyde but as a PHHS student, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Brandon and Nick are both Healthy kids and are fit. Neither of them are lazy, and both did make their lunches Friday. Also, its not just Brandon or Nick that had something to say about the school lunch prices, about 1,247 kids and counting agree with Brandon and Nick. So before you go insulting kids, think twice.
Chris September 29, 2012 at 05:46 AM
Neither, smashburger on 46 in Parsippany was scheduled to open the September 27 a few months back back, way before the strike was supposed to happen. But it is funny how it fell into place like that.
The Good Guy September 29, 2012 at 12:33 PM
The solution: Brown bag it. I've been doing it since high school because my parents couldn't afford to give me money to buy lunch. I do it today and save over $1000 a year on lunch money. Also, my food is MUCH MUCH more healthier than the garbage that is served by eating out and I don't have to worry about some nasty cook or waiter spitting in my food. I also know my food is fresh. Brown bag it guys and all will be good! Get in the habit now. You'll never regret it and never go back.
Dana Zukswert September 29, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Steven-You are right-on with your comment! Only in america would a healthy lunch program have to be mandated to get the massive amount of obese kids to trim down & be healthy. And only in america would everyone protest such a thing. When I was in school you had the one or two overweight kids in class. how things have changed.
Dana Zukswert September 29, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Looking at a cross-section of today's kids, that wouldn't be any loss. Youth really is wasted on the young.
Liz September 29, 2012 at 05:58 PM
NEWS FLASH: Kids Thinks School Lunches Suck (hahaha)
Liz September 29, 2012 at 06:05 PM
That's right kids! Make your own lunches and stick it to the man! While you're at it...throw some carrot sticks in there and a bottle of water...perhaps a piece of grilled chicken leftover from dinner your mom made? You'll be fuller, happier and not quick as fat. VIVA REVOLUTION!
Liz September 29, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Oh yeah...and for those of you complaining about the gov telling your kids to eat...you do realize that you have a choice? Instead of giving your kid money to buy lunch you could teach your teen to make a healthy lunch for themselves. It's really not that hard...grocery stores sells these little bags of carrots and green stuff called lettuce that's all chopped up for you. Oh yeah, and I heard bananas are quite portable.
Liz September 30, 2012 at 01:48 AM
omg...do you honestly think that if a kid reaches 850 calories at lunch he/she can't have any more to eat? If Nick chooses to buy a school prepared meal, he can ask for seconds on fruits and vegetables, or he can buy something else. And if that's not enough, Nicky boy can bring snacks or his own food. Noone is starving these kids, wake up!
Elizabeth Cox September 30, 2012 at 11:59 AM
We have pomptonian in our district and its gross. My son said it was good for about 3 months. They it was gross. The veggies were mushy, the food had no taste- my child has a great palate so I was surprised when he complained. We don't buy anymore from them. They raised prices and lowered there standards. Good luck boys!
RUkiddingme? October 02, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Healthy food cost more. Therefore, a healthy lunch will cost more. Have you not noticed that when they take the fat out of the food, the price goes up? Regular beef...$2/lb, 93% lean beef $4.99/lb...regular cheese food ( yea... its not cheese) $1.99...2% milk fat cheese food $4.99..and so it goes on!
RUkiddingme? October 02, 2012 at 04:24 PM
I have always brown bagged my kids lunches. Our schools did not offer lunch and i agree... active kids need more food! My kids are extremely active and I prepare lunches with a lot of protein, fruit and healthy snacks. I also have them take a reusable water bottle so they can fill it anywhere and always have it with them. They shove protein bars, granola bars and other snacks for afterschool.
RUkiddingme? October 02, 2012 at 04:30 PM
If you really want to trim the waistlines of our youth.. GET RID OF VIDEO GAMES, COMPUTERS, CELL PHONES...GET THEM OUTSIDE! Get kids moving again. I was never a fan of these types of entertainment mostly because these are stealing our time, focus and means of communicating with peers. NO reduced calorie lunch or longer gym period will help kids become healthier if they go home to sedentary lives filled with crappy snacks lovingly bought my mom.
OnTheBeach October 02, 2012 at 07:43 PM
@ ruckus ding me - yes you are correct about healthy foods costing more. But in this case they did not switch to lean meats its the same pink slim. The cheese is an extra charge. The protein portion is small and fruit & veg portion is larger. When I do grocery shopping my meats always cost more than the produce. So how dare they increase the price with a smaller portion size.
Nicholas Skroumbelos October 03, 2012 at 02:25 AM
I (burp) totally agree (belch) with you on this (was that you or me?) stance. Ain't NOBODY (phew that was a big one!) gonna tell me how to eat!
deb knobelman October 04, 2012 at 10:26 PM
how lame is it that THIS is what they are taking a stand on. just look around, america is grossly overweight, and we will all pay for it with our $$$$ through insurance premiums and tax dollars when they get sick with heart disease, diabetes, and who knows what else.

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