Nearly 3 million students served same lunch menu

Urban School Food Alliance's six districts shows solidarity by serving same menu for a day.

March 21—As a statement of solidarity in serving healthy meals to students, the Urban School Food Alliance (USFA), which consists of some of the largest school districts in the country, served the same lunch menu to more than 2.9 million students March 20.

The six school districts, New York City Department of Education, Los Angeles Unified School District, Chicago Public Schools, Dallas Independent School District, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Orange County (Fla.) Public Schools, officially formed USFA earlier this year to use their purchasing power to continue to improve food quality for students while driving down costs.

The lunch menu featured roasted chicken, brown rice with seasoned black or red beans, steamed green broccoli, fresh seasonal fruit and milk.

"This show of solidarity is unprecedented," Los Angeles Unified School District Food Services Director David Binkle said in a press release. "It demonstrates that all the school districts in the alliance can work together to implement the same programs while serving nutritious meals to our students."

The Urban School Food Alliance first met in Denver in 2012 and has since kept in communication regularly via telephone. The foodservice directors from each of the school districts share and review menu items to ensure that they provide access to meals that meet the USDA's nutrient recommendations. In addition to creating a purchasing powerhouse, the coalition is working to be more ecologically friendly in their respective districts. As a whole, the alliance procures more than $530 million in food and food supplies annually. 

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
wage feud business

As plans to increase the minimum wage surge ahead in states such as New York and California, operators eventually will feel the reverberations shake up labor costs for more than just hourly workers. As associate wages gain on manager salaries, operators will have to answer a call for reciprocal increases. FSD spoke with operators who advised going gently into the brave new world of heightened labor costs, investing in talent and making cuts elsewhere; however, they did offer three perfectly proactive tactics to make the process as seamless as possible.

1. Keep talking

Even though...

Menu Development
craft beer flight
A draw for happy hour...

Phan plans to serve beer and wine, and depending on liquor licensing, perhaps cocktails as well. “For faculty and staff on campus, it will be a really wonderful place to come to and have a glass of wine,” Wolch says. “Right now, we have The Faculty Club bar, which is a very historic spot, but this is going to be much more contemporary.”

And for morning coffee...

Phan’s plan for made-to-order coffee is bound to be a boon for both faculty and students. “We’ll have a brand-new espresso machine,” Phan says. Wolch adds, “Most of us in the Bay Area are, if not...

Managing Your Business
wurster west may 2016

At a nearly 150-year-old university, every stone column and classroom has treasured stories to tell. But with that history come the logistical challenges of operating in outdated spaces—especially for foodservice. Such is the case at University of California at Berkeley, where longtime cafe Ramona’s in Wurster Hall closed in March to make way for an updated, as-yet unnamed concept.

With little more than a steam table and coolers, Ramona’s was limited by its lack of ventilation. And, as a former classroom space, it never was intended to function for foodservice, says Jennifer Wolch...

Ideas and Innovation
chicken herbs

We make and broadcast short YouTube videos on TV monitors to educate our customers about cooking techniques, like how to cut up a chicken or what herbs and spices go well together. The monitors also are used to display daily menus, nutritional and allergen information, upcoming foodservice events and local weather forecasts.

FSD Resources