Junk food ban blamed for district's $37,780 deficit

Chips, sugary beverages used to have 70% profit margin.

Jan. 29—The Southern Berkshire Regional School Committee, in Sheffield, Mass., is evaluating its school lunch program, which has run up a deficit of $37,780 halfway through the school year, in part, because its schools no longer sell profitable "junk food."

The federal Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 aims to curb child obesity by mandating nutritious options—more fruits and vegetables—through the National School Lunch program, but some students didn't buy into it once it took effect this school year. Junk food such as chips, ice cream and sugary beverages are no longer sold at the public schools. For the district, junk food had produced an average profit margin of 70 percent. The margin on healthy food is about 20 percent, according to John Tranfaglia, the district's director of food services. 

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