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.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
woman surprise

When I joined the staff at FoodService Director in the spring of 2015, I couldn’t believe how much there was to learn about the intricacies of the industry. My past experience, from kindergarten to my college days to on-the-job meals, would lead me to believe that noncommercial dining was a kind of automated process—an amenity that’s expected, and one you only become aware of if something goes wrong.

But as with my own household chores, there are no magical elves making sure the business of feeding students, seniors and hospital patients is done, and done well. Foodservice...

Managing Your Business
hands team

In November, students at University of Missouri in Columbia began leading protests against discrimination faced by people of color on campus—including some marches through the dining halls. Julaine Kiehn, director of the school’s campus dining services, said the 2015-16 school year was a tough one, but she was proud of MU’s students for being at the forefront of a national movement.

And not only did the protests launch important conversations with students, but also with staff. Kiehn heard the protests and thought that her student workers, at least, might not feel safe and welcome...

Ideas and Innovation

When it comes to sustainability, sometimes the smallest kitchen changes can make the biggest difference. When Chris Henning, senior assistant director of dining services for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, switched from standard latex gloves to nitrile gloves, he also set up a recycling program. Once recycled, the gloves are turned into playground equipment, bike racks and park benches.

Henning says the nitrile gloves have been a good fit for his department, both in terms of durability and cost. “Participating in the campus buying program reduces the cost, as [our]...

Ideas and Innovation
elderly old hands

A family’s request for at-home meal support for a patient at Lee Memorial in Fort Myers, Fla., led System Director of Food & Nutrition Services Larry Altier to uncover a gap in care. He saw that only 1% of patients had been coded (diagnosed and labeled for billing purposes) as malnourished, while more than 60% of all Lee Memorial patients are over 65 years or older, a population that experiences the issue at a higher rate.

His discovery helped more rigorously identify malnutrition, but it also strengthened Lee Memorial’s community connection. The hospital launched a delivery...

FSD Resources