LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles Unified School District officials are trying to figure out how to convince students not to dump their healthy lunches.

An estimated $18 million in food — or about $100,000 a day — is tossed out in the nation’s second-largest school district every year.

LAUSD Food Services Director David Binkle estimated that about 10 percent of the approximately 650,000 meals served daily end up in the trash.

“What this is…is a cause from the 2010 Federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Basically, children can only decline a certain amount of food. So they have to take more food than they’re requesting or that they want,” he said.

KCAL9’s Kristine Lazar reported that students are given five different food options. Of those, they must choose three. At least one of those three must be a vegetable or a fruit.

“You have no option. You have to take it,” student Jaellin Alfaro said. “My choice is to throw it away.”

If students don’t follow the federal guidelines, the district doesn’t get reimbursed for the meals.

“We want to eliminate and remove that mandate that children have to take a certain amount of food,” Binkle said.

Supporters of the current regulations said administrators need to keep trying to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables.

Meantime, the LAUSD donates about 1 percent of the wasted food, but they’re dependent on nonprofits to come pick it up.

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