Industry leaders react to new competitive foods regs

USDA’s newly released interim rule gives operators another chance to comment on proposed requirements.

Published in FSD K-12 Spotlight

We asked a few child nutrition professionals what they thought about the USDA’s interim final rule regarding competitive foods. Here’s what they had to say. If you’ve got something to add, write to editor Becky Schilling at bschilling@cspnet.com.

School Nutrition Association, Diane Pratt-Heavner, director of media relations: We’ve got our annual conference coming up soon and competitive foods will be on the top of the list that we will be talking to members about. We have assembled a taskforce to submit comment on the proposed rules.

In our comments to the USDA on the proposed rules, we asked to try to minimize differences between the standards in the competitive foods and the meal pattern, so that operators wouldn’t be faced with evaluating food based on two diff sets of standards. We have a lot of concerns about that.

Given how complex the regs are, what kind of impact they will have on members’ programs and participation as members are trying to keep up with the meal patterns, we are concerned.

We are glad they offered an interim final rule as opposed to a final regulation. We have another opportunity to talk with USDA and raise some concerns. The taskforce is charged with talking to members about the interim rule and figuring out what’s of greatest concern to the members.

We are very concerned with the timing of these rules and the breakfast regs coming into effect this fall. Members are facing a tremendous amount of changes right now. They are still dealing with lunch standards. Sodium limitations are on horizon. Breakfast is coming into effect. Competitive foods is anther challenge our members have to deal with. That can greatly impact participation and revenue.

Dawn Houser, director of nutrition services, Collier County Public Schools in Florida: We’re already doing pretty much everything in the rules. What I’m not overly impressed with is USDA isn’t policing vending machines in these schools. They are supposed to be off until one hour after lunch. I’ve had photos sent to me of these machines on when they aren’t supposed to be on. If the USDA is going to be successful it needs to start enforcing its own regs and what’s being sold in the schools and when they are on.

Linda Stoll: executive director of food services, Jeffco Public Schools, Golden Colo.: Actually, I do not think they are as bad as they could have been. Jeffco is in a fairly fortunate position. Because of a review done by the Colorado Department of Education in 2008 where we were found to be in violation of the competitive foods regulation (because of vending machines and student stores) food and nutrition services took over the operation of the stores and vending. We have made sure that all foods offered complied with the guidelines from Alliance for a Healthier Generation. We are in the process of analyzing all of the a la carte foods that we currently offer and have found very few that do not work with the new regulations.

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
savory yogurt parfait

From Dannon Foodservice.

What consumers eat and, most importantly, when they’re eating it has changed significantly in recent years, signaling opportunity for operators able to capitalize on this evolution.

For example, some 83% of consumers said they were daily snackers in 2016, according to Technomic’s Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report . That’s up from 76% just two years earlier. Snacking is growing across many channels from retail prepared foods to bakery and coffee cafes, fast-food locations and more.

Busy lifestyles, smaller households with greater meal...

Industry News & Opinion

Labor secretary nominee Andy Puzder has officially bowed out of consideration for the cabinet position, according to the Associated Press .

Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants—the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.—was tired of being under fire for hiring an undocumented immigrant as a nanny and being accused 26 years ago of physically abusing his wife, an unnamed source told CBS News . The agency reported that Puzder was unlikely to show for the start of his confirmation hearings tomorrow.

Puzder has also been attacked by organized labor for comments suggesting that...

Industry News & Opinion

Risley Dining Room at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has just become 100 percent gluten-free, 14850.com reports.

For the past two years, the university has slowly phased out gluten in the dining hall’s menu by eliminating it in its stir fries, biscuits and brownies.

Instead of offering gluten-free versions of typical college fare, including pizza and pasta, the dining service team aimed for more sophisticated restaurant-style items.

Along with being gluten-free, Risley is also peanut free and tree-nut free.

The dining room is the second college eatery...

Industry News & Opinion

James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., recently hosted a weeklong program called Weigh the Waste, which aimed to show students how much food gets wasted in dining halls, The Breeze reports.

Throughout the week, students placed food they were about to throw away on a scale located near the trash bins at one of their dining halls. At the end of the week, the school tallied the waste and saw that 817 pounds of food had been wasted.

School officials hope that the annual program, which it’s hosted since 2015, will remind dining hall patrons to only take as much food as...

FSD Resources