From potatoes to pizza: The school lunch debate continues

Nov. 15—After last month’s Senate amendment, which sparred starchy vegetables, most notably white potatoes, from being limited on school menus, pizza is now taking center stage in the ongoing school lunch debate. According to Politico, a new piece of legislation is expected to be made public Monday that would count tomato paste on pizza as a serving of vegetables.

Not surprisingly, not everyone is happy about the proposed “pizza loophole.” More than 100 retired generals and admirals recently urged Congress to reject these new efforts. Citing Defense Department estimates that one in four adults are too overweight to join the military the former military officials noted that obesity is the leading medical disqualifier for military service.

"We are outraged that Congress is seriously considering language that would effectively categorize pizza as a vegetable in the school lunch program. It doesn't take an advanced degree in nutrition to call this a national disgrace," Amy Dawson Taggart, director of the national security non-profit Mission: Readiness, said in a press release. "This is more than just a food fight on Capitol Hill. This new effort to undermine school nutrition regulations raises national security concerns."

The release noted that this is not the first time that military leaders have asked lawmakers to address the nutritional needs of children as a matter of national security. One of the main reasons the National School Lunch Program was enacted after World War II was due to the poor nourishment of would-be recruits.

"Given that the USDA has spent the past year finalizing science-based standards to limit salt, unhealthy fats, and calories and include more nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, and whole grains as part of school cafeteria menus, you'd think we'd be off to the races and kids would soon be eating much healthier food at school,” Taggart said on the release. “Instead, we appear to be reliving the past battles over ketchup as a vegetable. If schools—or industry lobbyists—want to count pizza as a vegetable, they should make a pizza that meets the vegetable standards, not tamper with the standards to create a pizza loophole.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Amherst-Pelham Regional School District in Amherst, Mass., is updating its lunch debt policy to no longer single out students, MassLive reports.

Under the new policy, students with lunch debt will be given the same meals as their peers, regardless of how much they owe. School officials will also be communicating directly with parents of students who have accumulated debt instead of through the students themselves.

The updated policy comes just before U.S. school districts will be required to publicly list their lunch debt policies, per new USDA requirements starting July 1...

Menu Development
eureka

Since California’s state motto is “Eureka!” it seems fitting that a recent conversation with the director of hospitality at San Diego’s Palomar Health led to the biggest aha moment I’ve had in a long time.

I called Jim Metzger in late April with the purpose of discussing Palomar’s recent commitment to the goal of making 60% of its total menu plant-based by this summer. It seemed a lofty number, and I was curious how the public health system planned to get there.

But my personal eureka didn’t come while we were talking about how Palomar had cleaned up the impulse-buy zones...

Industry News & Opinion

Labeling foods with indulgent buzzwords such as “sweet sizzlin’” and “crispy” can lead consumers to make healthier food choices , according to a recent study out of Stanford University .

In the fall 2016 study, researchers labeled vegetables in one of the school’s dining halls using terms from four categories: basic, healthy restrictive, healthy positive or indulgent.

The green beans, for example, were listed as “green beans” for basic, “light ‘n’ low-carb green beans and shallots” for healthy restrictive, “healthy energy boosting green beans and shallots” for healthy...

Ideas and Innovation
sparkling water

Our carbonated soft drink sales at Earls.67 reflect a national trend; we’re continually down on carbonated soft drink sales by 8% to 9% on an annual basis,” says Cameron Bogue, beverage director at the contemporary-casual chain Earls Kitchen + Bar.

The issue with spa water

Many operators are intrigued with the offering, but they are learning that infused water can’t be offered at a cost to guests unless there is added value beyond cut-up fruit. Bogue says, “I was adamant that I didn’t want to charge for spa water.”

Agua fresca alternatives

At the original location of

...

FSD Resources