USDA says 524 schools dropped out of NSLP

Healthier requirements have turned some schools off to the federal lunch program.

Sept. 30—The Agriculture Department says 524 schools — out of about 100,000 — have dropped out of the federally subsidized national school lunch program since the government introduced new standards for healthier foods last year.

The new standards have been met with grumbling from school nutrition officials who say they are difficult and expensive to follow, conservatives who say the government shouldn't be dictating what kids eat and — unsurprisingly — from some children who say the less-greasy food doesn't taste as good. But USDA says the vast majority of schools are serving healthier food, with some success.

Data the department is planning to release Monday shows that 80 percent of schools say they have already met the requirements, which went into place at the beginning of the 2012 school year. About a half percent have dropped out of the program.