School lunch standards feed $10 billion controversy

The school lunch program was first started to help end childhood obesity and teach healthy eating habits, but is now pushing some children even further in the opposite direction.

WASHINGTON—The ferocity of first lady Michelle Obama's counterattack against a proposal to temporarily waive school lunch standards shows what's really at stake in Congress: a $10 billion effort to wean Americans off junk food, a campaign whose seeds were planted nearly two decades ago by Berkeley food crusader Alice Waters.

The waiver would give some schools a one-year reprieve on newly increased nutrition standards, passed by Congress in 2010 and championed by the first lady as a key part of her "Let's Move" campaign to end childhood obesity in a generation. The new standards require servings of fresh fruit and vegetables, more whole grains, and less sugar, trans fat and salt.

The rules have been under attack from Republicans since they were implemented in 2012, with Congress intervening last year to make pizza toppings count as a vegetable. In May, GOP lawmakers tucked the new waiver into an Agriculture Department spending bill, touching off a battle that has divided school food service directors across the country.

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University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has replaced a fajita bar in one of its dining halls with a superfoods bar, Tommie Media reports.

Aiming to provide more options for athletes and students with dietary restrictions, the new bar offers diners a choice of protein with a variety of toppings, such as beans, fruit, couscous and quinoa.

The superfoods bar has made a few appearances on campus since it was first tried for the school’s football players last summer.

“Word of mouth is getting out, and every day I get a few more people,” Ryan Carlson, a cook at the...

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Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

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