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      WASTE WACH: $1 billion in school lunches thrown away each year

      WASTE WACH: $1 billion in school lunches thrown away each year

      COLUMBIA (WACH) â?? The National School Lunch Program is a massive effort to get healthy meals to American Students.

      Critics argue that thereâ??s waste in the program because the summer food service program is incentive based. The Government Accountability Institute says taxpayer money is being spent to generate enrollment, even if the need for food is not great enough to get families to the program.

      â??Food is not enough to attract students,â?? said Peter Schweizer of GAI. â??So they do a lot of social activities; they have to have raffles and contests to encourage people to come. If itâ??s a feeding program designed to meet legitimate needs, they shouldnâ??t have to do that.â??

      Thatâ??s not the only complaint. The School Nutrition Sssociation, which lobbies for cafeteria workers, says new USDA mandates of a fruit and vegetable on every plate, even if the child doesnâ??t want them, is causing plate waste.

      An estimated $1 Billion worth of food is going in the trash each year.

      USDA Secretary Kevin Concannon admits the new standards are indeed rigorous, but he says his agency is helping struggling school districts. On the charges that money is spent to boost enrollment, Concannon says federal tax dollars can only be spent for the preparation of food.

      â??What weâ??ve done to counter [plate waste] is to educate the children, educate the parents and find fun ways in which they can explore new foods and new taste,â?? said John Shana of Maryland Food Bank.

      The U.S. Congress passed the Hunger Free Kids Act in 2010. The FDA insists implementation of the program is working.

      There are several churches and organizations locally working to help feed children during these critical summer months.

      Right now Harvest Hope is in the process of looking for more faith partners for its back pack program.

      The department of social services has the summer food service program which is federally funded.