New breakfast regs roll “smoothly” into schools

But challenges loom, directors fear, especially with fruit component.

Schools must offer 1/2 cup of fruit every day, and milk and grains must be offered daily. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new breakfast meal regulations, introduced this fall, have been implemented more easily than were the school lunch standards last year, school foodservice directors say. But that doesn’t mean that operators don’t have concerns, both for now and in 2014-2015.

“It's been going well,” says Amy Glodde, menu planner for the Oakland Unified School District, in California. “We had some pushback from parents at an elementary site. This particular site is in transition and is currently implementing a grab and go menu. It's a K-12 menu and the parents did not understand why their elementary aged children were getting the same amount of calories that a higher schooler would receive. After a little explaining about the new regulations the situation was worked out, but we haven't had any large issues to deal with.”

Among the changes for school breakfast this year, schools must offer ½ cup of fruit every day, and milk and grains must be offered daily. In addition, the amount of grains to be offered at each grade level have been increased, and half of the grain products must be whole-grain rich. Next year, the amount of fruit offered will increase to 1 cup per day, and all of the grain products offered must be whole-grain rich.

Leah Schmidt, foodservice director for Hickman Mills C-1 School District, in Kansas City, Mo., and current president of the School Nutrition Association, says that the organization hasn’t heard many comments from foodservice directors about the new regulations. Her reasoning? A large number of districts have only begun to work in the new standards. Also, “breakfast isn’t the big ticket item that lunch is,” she says.

“In our districts, I think the fact that we had started to implement the rules early made everything run more smoothly, and that’s probably true of most districts that were proactive,” Schmidt says. “But there isn’t the additional money from USDA that we got for lunch”—six cents more per lunch was allocated to enact the new requirements—“so that’s weighing on some districts.

There is also some concern about the added fruit component next year and the extra cost of that.”

Doug Davis, foodservice director for Burlington School District, in Vermont, put a slightly different spin on the new fruit requirement for 2014. He worries about supply.

“I’m not sure if this is a concern yet, but it might be,” Davis says. “We have to consider the actual supply of fruit. In Burlington, we will be adding dozens of cases of fruit per week to our orders, and we’ve only got 4,000 students. We’re talking about 35 million breakfasts nationwide. An unintended consequence could be, will we have enough fruit to give them?”

Davis notes, for example, that the apple crop in the Northeast in 2012 had a down year. He says that shortages like this could exacerbate the problem. He also notes that other variables exist, such as the availability of fruit in months outside of the growing season in places like New England.

On the flip side, he sees no problem satisfying the whole-grain-rich requirement next year. “Our experience in the Northeast has been that a wide variety of whole-grain products have been readily available,” he says.

Roxanne Moore, national director of wellness for Sodexo Education-Schools, believes that giving students choices will be key to making the new regulations, both for breakfast and lunch, stick. She says that, thus far, the breakfast requirements have been “easy to implement.” She thinks that giving students the idea that they are in control will help keep the programs moving forward.

“A lot of it is education, providing taste tests and piquing the interest of students about food,” Moore says. She adds that, to help facilitate the concept of students “owning the decision-making process,” all Sodexo school accounts have committed to the Smarter Lunchroom Movement (SLM), a program begun four years ago by the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Program. The program is designed to study the way children choose the foods they eat and to help guide them in making healthier choices.

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, the SLM advocates choice. “If you offer students two or three fruit choices instead of just one, if students feel like they have a choice, they are more likely to eat it,” Moore says. “If they feel forced to take something they are less likely to consume it.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The Virginia Department of Health said it has traced a “cluster” of hepatitis A cases to frozen Egyptian strawberries used by Virginia units of a smoothie chain.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe voluntarily trashed the strawberries and switched to supplies from a different source immediately after being notified of the connection, the health department said in a statement issued Friday.

The department noted that it had traced earlier outbreaks of hepatitis A to strawberries imported from Egypt. But it warned that supplies may still be in the freezers of other foodservice operations...

Managing Your Business
business man smash computer

Foodservice directors spend a lot of time taking care of other people, whether it’s K-12 students who aren’t always eating enough at home, malnourished patients back for return visits or employees squabbling among themselves. That kind of pressure can weigh heavily—and come home from work. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America finds that 83% of men and 72% of women say stress at work carries over into their personal lives, and 50% call staff management their main culprit for workplace stress.

“Stress is very difficult in our world, and work-life balance is very much a...

Industry News & Opinion

Students at an Arkansas high school may have to take creative measures to get a meal, thanks to a school policy that prevents parents from dropping off lunches left at home.

The Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock, Ark., last week posted a picture on Facebook of a sign that reads, “Stop. If you are dropping off your son’s forgotten lunch, books, homework, equipment, etc., please turn around and exit the building. Your son will learn to problem-solve in your absence.”

While social media opinions on the school’s rule were mixed, some commenters expressed concern that...

Industry News & Opinion

Novato Unified School District in Novato, Calif., has created a new vegetarian grab-and-go item as part of the district’s Meatless Monday initiative, marinij.com reports .

The Fiesta Rice and Bean Shaker, which is served in disposable cups, contains rice, corn, black beans, taco seasoning, corn tortilla chips and romaine lettuce topped with an optional salsa and ranch dressing. It’s also customizable, as students are able to select which ingredients they’d like to include.

The vegetarian shaker is made using produce from a nearby organic garden. Sofie Garcia, an employee in...

FSD Resources