Low-fat turkey hot dogs, fruits, and veggies aren't the lunchtime turn-off many assume, a study of Minnesota school districts finds. Sure, students prefer fattier lunches, but demand doesn't drop and cost doesn't rise when they're dished up healthier meals. Although labor expenses typically increase, the savings from abandoning processed foods compensates.
The 5-year study, crunched data from 330 Minnesota public school districts, also found rules allowing schools to charge expenses like cafeteria janitorial services or electricity to the lunch program can lead to abuse. The economists who did the research recommended tightening restrictions on such charges, upgrading kitchens, and training workers to prepare healthier meals.