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Par Hills Lunch Strike Organizers Receive High Praise

Superintendent commends students for initiative in leading Friday's boycott.

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.

Faith September 29, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Healthy eating can stabilize our children's energy and sharpen their minds! This new program is working great at the elementary school level, instilling healthy eating habits. Obesity is a major problem in America. A great number of our youth are already obese. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain snacks, water and fruit juices give our children the best opportunity to grow into healthy, confident adults. The problem here is that our high school students are used to pizza, french fries, bagels, chicken nuggets, cookies and potato chips,.....all of which they have developed a natural preference for. Unfortunately, these are all empty calorie foods high in fat, sodium, and sugar! I feel for these students having a hard time transitioning but I think our schools should be role models for healthy eating.
Kenneth Kaplan September 29, 2012 at 01:27 PM
TANSTAAFL: There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Federal funds always involve federal strings attached. The federal government has no business being involved in our local school lunch program, or in our local schools at all. If elected to the US Senate (I am running as the Libertarian Party candidate), I would introduce legislation to abolish the Department of Education at the federal level.
schabadoo September 29, 2012 at 01:56 PM
"I want subsidized lunches, but I want anything I want!!!"
Janet Ebel September 29, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Faith, you have completely missed the point of the protest! These kids are protesting the fact that the portion sizes are considerably smaller but the price nearly doubled. The new program may work great at elementary schools, but when you give the same portion size to a 180 pound football player in the high school, you're going to have hungry kids. Bigger machine needs more fuel.
Nancy September 29, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Forcing children to eat something they don't want is hard enough to do as a parent. Thanks to our tyrannical government, we have to give our children food that they simply throw into the trash. I see it everyday at the elementary level. STOP WASTING MY TAX DOLLARS.
jackie welsh September 29, 2012 at 03:44 PM
ISN'T THE MONEY WE AS PARENTS PAID FOR LUNCH GO DIRECTLY TO THE BOARD OF ED? SO MR SEITZ WHY NOT GET ALL THE KIDS ON A BUS(USING UR BIG SALERY TO PAY FOR THE BUSES) AND PROTEST HOW THEY FEEL ABOUT THE NEW HEALTHY HUNGER FREE ACT AT THE WHITE HOUSE.. SHOW MICHELE OBUMA HOW HER IDEA MAKES THEY KIDS MAD AND STILL HUNGRY!!!
schabadoo September 29, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Why do you refuse to make lunch for your own children? Why do you need the government to feed them?
schabadoo September 29, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Free buses, free trips to Washington DC...socialism!
jackie welsh September 29, 2012 at 07:36 PM
IF YOU READ WHERE I STATED THAT SEITZ PAY FOR IT IT'S NOT FREE BUSES AND WHY NOT LET HIM PAY FOR IT SINCE HE'S MAKING SUCH A BIG SALERY AND ONE THAT COST THE SCHOOLS GOVERMENT GRANT MONEY NOT TO LONG AGO!!!!!!
Nancy September 29, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Of course I read your statement about Dr. Seitz's salary but I ignored your contemptuous comment. You are changing the subject once again. We do not want socialism. I am sick of food regulations by our government. I had soda machines and junk food in the schools that I went to yet I didn't buy it everyday. I was taught self control at home. I knew the value of a dollar too. There are far too many real issues in this country that need to be address.
schabadoo September 29, 2012 at 09:47 PM
I agree with you. Let's just get rid of school lunches and get the government out of our meals. If the kids want sodas, they can bring them.
Rosetta September 29, 2012 at 11:35 PM
I also see elementary school students...including kindergartners...throwing away the fruits and veggies they have to take. I say everyone bring their own lunch.
jackie welsh September 30, 2012 at 12:49 AM
YEAH THEY WOULD THROW AWAY THE VEGGIES AND FRUITS SINCE SOME PARENTS OUT THERE NEVER BUY THEM!!!! BY READ ALL YOUR COMMENTS I CAN TELL YOUR HOMES MUST BE FILLED WITH TONS OF JUNK FOODS!!! AND AS FOR SELF CONTROL TAUGHT AT HOME WELL TAKE A CLOSE LOOK THE NEXT TIME YOUR AT THE SUPER MARKET AND WATCH HOW FILLED THE CARTS ARE- OVER 50% IS FILLED WITH JUNK FOOD PRE PACKAGED FOODS FROZEN DINNER AND HIGH CAL DRINKS NO SIGN OF FRESH FRUITS OR VEGGIES!!! .. AS PARENTS YOU ARE TO BE YOUR KIDS ROLE MODEL!!!!
jackie welsh September 30, 2012 at 12:57 AM
SOME OF KIDS IN PARSIPPANY ARE ON THE REDUCED OR FREE LUNCH PROGRAM SO THEY HAVE NO WAY TO BRING THEIR OWN LUNCH TO SCHOOL...
jackie welsh September 30, 2012 at 01:05 AM
YOU'RE A FINE ONE TO TALK!!!
jackie welsh September 30, 2012 at 01:09 AM
THE JUNK FOOD AND SODA MACHINES ARE STILL IN THE SCHOOL!!!! BUT TODAY'S KIDS HAVE JOBS AND WILL BUY ITEMS FROM THOSE MACHINES IF THEY SO DESIRE!!! TAKE A WALK INTO THE MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOLS ARE YOU WILL SEE THE MACHINES YOU ONCE HAD IN YOUR SCHOOL ARE STILL UP AND RUNNING!!!!!!!!!
schabadoo September 30, 2012 at 01:31 AM
No, they're still allowed to bring their own lunch if they'd like. Or, bring a snack to augment their free socialist lunch.
g September 30, 2012 at 10:31 AM
It's the new American way, let one person dictate what the kids will eat.
Michael Brancato September 30, 2012 at 10:39 AM
Actually, Janet, what studies have found is that kids are throwing away more of their food than before. So they're hungry not because portion sizes are smaller, but because they're doing what kids have done for decades: eating the bread and meat and throwing away the fruit and vegetables. Tell your kids to eat their vegetables and I bet they won't be hungry anymore. Portion size really aren't the isse. The standard high school lunch is 850 calories, almost half of the recommended adult caloric intake. That should be more than plenty to fill up a high schooler, if they were eating all of it.
Janet Ebel September 30, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Really? Since the school year is only 16 days old, I'd love to see a study that says the kids are throwing away more food. Where is this study found? My kids brown bag their lunch so they aren't the hungry ones. They eat any vegetable that I put in front of them. But this article is about the protest over higher prices for less food. Portion sizes ARE the issue. The point of the protest is that if the portion sizes went down, the price should have gone down, not up.
Rosetta September 30, 2012 at 12:14 PM
No, we do not have junk food in my house. I do have to say that I have seen several families who get free lunch and they drive around in Mercedes & other very good cars...their children are very well dressed...and they lie on their forms in order to get reduced or free lunch....when their child brings goodies for a birthday they spend $30 on cupcakes, etc, instead of baking the cupcakes like a lot of people do.
TAXPAYER September 30, 2012 at 12:44 PM
OH COME ON ROSETTA LIKE YOU DON'T HAVE ANY JUNK FOOD IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD... THERE ISN'T A HOME OUT THERE THAT DOESN'T HAVE AT LEAST ONE ITEM WHICH THEY WOULD NEVER CALL JUNK FOOD BUT IN THE REAL WORLD IT IS HAHA
TAXPAYER September 30, 2012 at 12:50 PM
HEY KIDS GO TAKE UR POINT TO THE WHITE HOUSE JUST LIKE EVERYONE WHO WANTED TO EXPRESS THEIR POINT!!! MAKE PROTEST SIGNS, MARCH IN ONE GREAT BIG CIRCLE!!! A BIG PORTION OF MY TAXES GOES TO THE SCHOOLS
schabadoo September 30, 2012 at 01:04 PM
If they actually cared, they'd bring a lunch instead of whine.
Wendy September 30, 2012 at 03:12 PM
What we need is for more kids to take up the cause across the nation. To get the point across. My kids shouldn't have to pay more for less(no fruit or veggies means higher lunch prices). My kids eat fruit and veggies on a regular basis why should they be penalized for making an INDIVIDUAL choice. Has Anyone thought about the smaller sized kids??? My kids tell me the food has lost flavor and prices have increased. As for bringing lunch. Milk tends to get sour and if you send a hot lunch it tends to get cold. Last year my 8th grader came home happy because he enjoyed lunch and my 6th grader couldn't wait to get to middle school because he was looking forward to better lunch options than the intermediate school offered. Now I get grumpy kids ransacking the fridge and pantry when they get home!
TAXPAYER September 30, 2012 at 04:39 PM
WELL AS PARENTS WE ALL NEED TO ADDRESS THIS TO MICHELE OBUMA WHO'S BRIGHT IDEA WAS FOR THE GOVERMENT TO CONTROL WHAT OUR KIDS EAT!!!! I FOR ONE HAVE WRITTEN LETTERS TO GET RID OF THIS STUPID #$@%^# HEALHTY HUNGRY FREE PROGRAM!!!! FOOD COST HAS GONE UP ALONG WITH GAS PRICES ALL CONTROLLED BY THE PEOPLE WE PUT IN OFFICE!!!!! BROWN BAGGING OR BUYING LUNCH IT ALL COST ALOT AND OUR PAYCHECKS NEVER SEEMS TO NEVER GET BIGGER!
schabadoo September 30, 2012 at 09:59 PM
What does buying milk at school have to do with being forced to buy lunches? This need for the school to take care of everybody is something else.
schabadoo September 30, 2012 at 10:48 PM
The federal lunch program was started by Truman.
Sean senro September 30, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Ok, learn to spell first off, capitalization is not key to proving empty,invalid points, and you cant claim you know all about what kids do or do not do in school, unless you just so happen to be a kid
clyde donovan October 01, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Kids should not be allowed to bring in cupcakes for their birthday or they'll wind up as fat as Oprah. The school should require only birthday organic granola bars. I know it's a total bitch getting candles in granola bars but maybe the janitor has a cordless drill.

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