Parsippany Superintendent of Schools LeRoy Seitz has words of praise for the Parsippany Hills High School students who organized a Friday boycott against the federally mandated school lunch program.
Most students refused to buy anything in the PHHS cafeteria to protest the new Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. Under the law, passed in 2010 and begun at the start of this school year, basic school lunches offer smaller portions of protein and bread, a bigger emphasis on fruits and vegetables and price increases to cover the higher cost of healthier food options.
Dr. Seitz said in a statement that the boycott went forward in a positive manner.
"During their lunch periods the students were respectful and simply reported to the cafeteria with brown bagged lunches or decided not to purchase a lunch today," he said. "Students at our 13 other schools did not participate in the boycott."
The superintendent offered kudos to those who participated in the protest.
"We commend the students for their initiative to increase awareness of the new federal regulations and for the respectful way the boycott was handled," he said, adding that there were no discipliary incidents. "Hopefully the boycott will help lead to meaningful discussion at the federal level."
The Par Hills protest is one of many happening at schools across the U.S. The student activism has received nationwide news coverage, a YouTube spoof created by students in Kansas and even a joke-filled jab from Comedy Central's Jon Stewart.
Whatever one's view of the effort, the students' show of dissent indeed may affect change in the future. Mark Vidovich, president of Pomptonian Food Service, which oversees nutrition programs at many schools including Parsippany's, said two members of the U.S. House of Representatives are looking into ways to amend the law to make it more palatable to students.
Many students have complained about the program, saying that they aren't getting filling cafeteria meals and often are left feeling hungry. Others say the program, which gives kids an opportunity to purchase add-on items, is ultimately too expensive.
Par Hills senior Brandon Faris, who organized the protest with junior Nicholas Caccavale, said he sees students spending almost $5 a day for lunch, a big jump over the approximately $2.25-$2.50 the meal cost last year
Faris told Patch he appreciated the superintendent's comments about the strike.