New school meal regs get the spotlight at SNA

Experts said with focus on scratch-cooking districts have been able to keep up with regulations.

July 19—With new federal standards for school meals going into effect this month, and a renewed focus on the issue brought by the first lady, Michelle Obama, thousands of school chefs, food service workers and nutrition experts from around the country gathered in Denver this week at an annual conference put on by the School Nutrition Association.

As vendors hawked samples of every imaginable school fare—whole-grain rolls, turkey sandwiches, pizza squares—cooks and school food administrators traded tips on how to improve their schools’ cuisine. These improvements must be made as part of the new federal Department of Agriculture nutrition standards for school meals, which seemed to be the main topic of conversation.

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Ideas and Innovation
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To make safe food as accessible as possible for our guests with allergies, we are creating an allergen-friendly kitchen this summer. Students and community members will be able to use our mobile app to place orders for allergen-friendly food and pick them up at the central kitchen. The kitchen will also produce grab-and-go options that will be distributed across campus.

Ideas and Innovation
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When revamping an old cafeteria or building a new retail spot, the design process can feel like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle: What needs to fit in the space, and what’s the most efficient flow for staffers, cooks, diners and more?

Cathy Estes, administrative director of nutrition services at four northern Indiana hospitals that are part of the Franciscan Health network, faced the creation of a new in-house dining program at Franciscan’s Munster hospital. Amid all the big plans, design was one of the largest undertakings.

“I was looking at 5,000 square feet on a...

Ideas and Innovation
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About 90% of our students receive financial assistance and participate in our free and reduced-price meal program. But a number of students in our district study remotely due to circumstances such as chronic illness. In January, we hired a driver to deliver meals to students who aren’t able to step into our cafeteria each day.

Ideas and Innovation
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Restaurant design is all about catching a customer’s eye —and it’s sometimes particularly beneficial to be far-sighted. As Airbnb has proven with its San Francisco headquarters, where cafe spaces are inspired by cities like Cairo and Mumbai, elaborate design schemes that evoke far-flung geographic regions can be done to great effect. But operators are finding simpler ways to achieve that feel.

That’s been the experience of Kutztown University Dining Services in Pennsylvania. Kent Dahlquist, director of housing and dining services, says that when the university decided several years...

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