SNA tries again to get its flexibility message out

The association held a conference call to share hardships directors are facing with the new USDA regulations.

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill.—The School Nutrition Association (SNA) held a conference call today to address the growing discontent surrounding the child nutrition industry.

SNA is asking Congress and the USDA to allow for one-year waivers for new regulations set to go into place July 1 for those districts that have been negatively impacted financially by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The White House, USDA and SNA past presidents have spoken out against allowing the waivers.

Here’s what some of the conference participants said about the need for the waivers:

Michael Rosenberger, Irving ISD, Texas: Our cost is up 20 cents per lunch to meet the 6-cent certification. We anticipate the cost of breakfast to up 28 cents with the new regulations; that’s an $882,000 in food cost for breakfast with zero increase in reimbursement. With the new regulations, we’re looking at having to cut our popular entrée salad program because it is unaffordable. Breakfast in the classroom and universal breakfast are on a warning light because of increased cost. There’s a risk nationwide of dumbing down menus to meet the new regs when you get the same amount of money no matter how good your menu is (i.e., more processed meat instead of whole-muscle meats and canned vegetables instead of fresh). Some people in our industry call the loss of 1 million meals served per year a success.

Sara Gasiorowski, Wayne Township, Indiana: What kind of message is being sent to our kids when we can sell diet soda and sugar-free gum but not a chicken breast sandwich on whole-grain bread because the sodium is too high?

Cindy Marion, Yadkin County Schools, North Carolina: These new regulations are really pushing our paying students away from the program. I’m a little concerned we’re beginnig to demonize foods like tortillas and grits that are regional or cultural. When we see numbers of meals going down, I don’t know how anyone can refute that districts are having trouble with these regs. Students are walking away from the program.

Joannie Miller, Bogalusa City Schools, Louisiana: We’re not moving backwards when we ask for the changes; we want the flexibility to do our jobs. I’m upset with the recent politicization of the program in the media; I’ve been working with state legislators to keep them informed, both Democrats and Republicans.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
oxford school district cafeteria

We have spent considerable money making cafeterias cool again. New paint jobs, crazy color patterns, custom graphics and changes in lighting schemes have made some of our cafes popular gathering places. We’ve also experimented with videos, cable TV programs and music. We involved a number of student groups and student input in improving the atmosphere, especially in our high school and middle school cafeterias.

Menu Development
meatloaf slices plate

“This is the best meatloaf I’ve ever had,” a diner at Alcatel-Lucent telecommunications in Naperville, Ill., once told chef Iraj Fernando. The dish was rooted in a tried-and-true source—the “Betty Crocker Cookbook.”

“I just seasoned the breadcrumbs differently, used fresh parsley and beat the eggs to make them frothier,” says Fernando, executive chef and manager for Southern Foodservice Management.

Consumer interest is up for classic and comforting meat dishes like meatballs (16%), beef pot pie (26%) and meatloaf (12%) for dinner now compared to two years ago, shows...

Ideas and Innovation
kale quinoa salad

With all the hype around probiotics, we decided to create a daily dish that incorporates probiotics in addition to prebiotics. You rarely hear about prebiotics, and this was a great way to highlight how the two work synergistically to maintain a healthy gut. Our chefs have developed menu items such as roasted salmon with yogurt and mint vinaigrette; kale and quinoa salad with warm maple dressing; and leek soup with pickled cucumbers, to name a few.

Ideas and Innovation
packaged meals

While the multiple-choice questions on FoodService Director’s annual census surveys are a great way of gathering data on trends, I’ve always been rather partial to the open-ended queries. We can’t possibly think up every answer operators might have to a particular question, and it gives respondents a chance to show some personality as well. (A special nod to one cheeky operator’s not-quite-safe-for-work response to how they’re tackling shortened lunch periods—you made my day.)

So this year, for the first time since I’ve been at FoodService Director, I chose to include a very open-...

FSD Resources