California schools join push for healthier eating

Local produce program helps reach health goals.

March 4—First lady Michelle Obama's push to improve the quality of food served in U.S. schools appears to be bearing fruit locally.

"Childhood obesity is a big buzz topic right now," said Cinde Stone, director of nutrition services at the Rialto (Calif.) Unified School District. "I think there's studies that show our nation as a whole is overweight. I think they're trying to help fix that problem."

In keeping with the first lady's goal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been adjusting its school meal requirements so that districts must serve more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and less salt.

And for the first time, the government has set maximum calorie counts for meals served in schools. Previous regulations required only a minimum calorie count.

The new regulations will be phased in beginning in the 2012-13 school year, and many local districts are already adjusting their menus.

"It's been quite a transition because there are a lot of kids, particularly in this area, that grew up eating fast food," said Rose Fennell, nutrition specialist with the San Bernardino City Unified School District.

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Industry News & Opinion

Six Philadelphia hospitals were honored by the city’s department of public health for healthy food initiatives introduced as part of the local Good Food, Healthy Hospitals program, bizjournals.com reports .

The hospitals each debuted healthy measures to their dining services, such as lowering the cost of water bottles and seltzers, and offering dishes that incorporate local produce. One hospital was also honored for operating its own organic farm.

The facilities that were honored were:

Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Eastern...
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Fifty-seven percent of consumers age 18-34 find spicy flavors, “extremely appealing,” according to Technomic. And almost 50% of college students surveyed said they would like their schools to offer more ethnic foods and beverages, states a recent Technomic College & University Consumer Trend Report. Translation: they like their food kicked up a notch!

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Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo is partnering with celebrity chef Robert Irvine in an attempt to provide military communities with healthier meals.

The 10-year partnership will allow Sodexo to access chef Irvine’s knowledge of nutrition and fitness in its aim to benefit the quality of life for military members, the vendor said in a news release.

Sodexo hopes that Irvine’s popularity as the host of Food Network’s "Restaurant: Impossible" will draw attention to its commitment to nutrition, health and well being. Irvine also has a military history himself—before embarking on his culinary career, he...

Industry News & Opinion

The cafeteria at the Smithsonian's new National Museum for African American History and Culture is intended to be an extension of the museum, showcasing stations that offer cuisines from different geographic locations such as the Creole coast and agricultural South, Time reports .

The eatery, Sweet Home Cafe, was set up to highlight the wide range of African-American cuisine, Executive Chef Jerome Grant told Time. When it officially opens later this month, it will serve dishes such as shrimp and grits, pan-roasted oysters and a fried catfish po’boy.

Celebrity chef Carla...

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