More than half of the nation’s school cafeteria workers expect to lose money selling low-salt, low-fat meals pushed by first lady Michelle Obama, a “serious” problem that threatens the programs, according to a survey of food providers.

The School Nutrition Association, which is planning to demand changes to the meal requirements to make the food more attractive to students, found that 50.35 percent of cafeteria officials surveyed expect that serving the food will “exceed revenue” next year.

“Of the 92 percent of respondents reporting that rising costs pose a ‘serious’ or ‘moderate’ challenge to their programs, 70 percent indicated ‘serious,’” said the survey from the group that represents 35,000 school nutrition professionals.

Second on the list of concerns in the new survey was food waste, mostly the veggies and fruit now demanded by the federal government under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act promoted by the first lady.

As a result, the group plans to ask the administration to let schools ease up on the low-salt and fruit and vegetable demands. In fact, they plan to seek a recess from being required to put fruit and veggies on meal trays, according to a draft proposal.

The group cited a USDA survey that said since the department started requiring healthy menu adjustments, more than one million fewer students have stopped buying the meals.

The new requirements, said the group, add about $1.2 billion in new food and labor costs annually.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at