USDA updates media on school nutrition

Aug. 16—During a conference call with media yesterday, USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon said the department was working hard to have the final rule for the updated nutrition standards, as specified under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, finalized by the end of the year. Concannon said more than 132,000 comments had been received about the act. The USDA finished reviewing those comments last month.

“We are reviewing [the rule] right now,” he said. “Most of the comments were quite positive, but we are also mindful that there are a number of significant changes in [the bill], so we want to make sure that it is achievable.”

One area in the bill that Concannon said the department was looking at was the language of offer versus serve for the increased amount of fruits and vegetables that are now required.

Concannon also added that the department hopes to have the proposed standards for competitive foods released before the calendar year.

Also on the call was Becky Bounds, child nutrition director for the Lamar County School District in Mississippi. Lamar County is the first district in the nation to achieve a Gold with Distinction award in the HealthierUS School Challenge for a high school.

Bounds said she has already made many of the proposed requirements in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. “It is a time when we are making many changes, but they are changes that need to be made,” Bounds said about the child nutrition environment. “We are not part of the program. We are part of the fix. It does take revitalizing your menus and educating your staff and knowing why we’re doing what we’re doing,” to achieve these changes.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chicken and waffles

Our elementary menu is currently riding the breakfast-anytime advertising trend by offering Breakfast for Lunch every Tuesday. It ranks as our highest participation, and it was a great way for us to introduce chicken and waffles inspired by an IHOP dish.

Ideas and Innovation
dress code geeks

Team uniforms are a way we encourage fun. I tell the mangers that every person on your team needs to look like a member of your team, but they can decide together what they want to wear. When the students see a cafeteria person that is matching and having fun with their outfits, they relate to those people better. We don’t want them to look stiff and stuffy.

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
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.

FSD Resources