Era of healthier school meals begins

The opening of schools means new headaches for foodservice departments.

With Labor Day fast approaching, school districts are either already in session or preparing to open their doors for the new year. That means the opening of books, the sharpening of pencils, and the oodles of paperwork that comes with the start of a new academic season.

And that’s just for the foodservice department.

The passage of new federal regulations requiring school districts to serve healthier meals didn’t come simply with a mandate to achieve the aforementioned goal. It also came with reams of forms, not only to spell out exactly how the regulations must be met but for directors to prove that they are actually meeting the requirements.

In an editorial published Aug. 26, The Oregonian newspaper in Portland says “the standards come with rules so detailed and prescriptive, they threaten to kill the kinds of nutritional programs they are supposed to foster.” The editorial talks about Abernethy Elementary School, part of Portland Public Schools, possibly having to shut down its Kitchen Garden program, from which the foodservice staff gather much of the produce they use in preparing students’ meals.

We’ve heard this song before. Every time legislators create new regulations, such as validating the applications of parents applying for free or reduced-price meals for their kids, they require so much paperwork that districts become too frustrated to want to continue the program. We appreciate the need for a checks and balance system for any federally funded program, but does the paperwork have to be so onerous as to dissuade compliance—perhaps even cause districts to abandon their foodservice programs? That’s the question the federal government must find an answer to.

Our questions to school foodservice directors are these: What is the most onerous part of the new healthy meals regulations? What changes are you having to make to your programs as a result of the new regs? And, if you have any advice for your fellow foodservice professionals as you all deal with this new era, what is it?

Share your answers with us, either as comments to this blog, in an email to me at pking@cspnet,.com, or on our Facebook page, and we’ll spread the word.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion
autumn leaves

Because I’m writing this letter in the middle of August, it’s a bit tough to imagine the fall season—crunchy leaves, cooler air and the impending sense of dread over whether this will finally be the winter when I freeze to the sidewalk.

But autumn also brings some of my favorite foods: stews, soups, squashes and apples fresh from the tree. Meanwhile, at Greenville County Schools in South Carolina, K-12 diners are getting amped up about a plethora of DIY options, including a build-your-own chicken and waffles bar, says Director of Food and Nutrition Services Joe Urban. (Where was...

Managing Your Business
teamwork pack

As summer begins to fade and vacation season comes to a close, it’s time to start thinking about revitalizing staffers’ connections to one another . It’s certainly no secret in the Winsight offices that I’m a bit of a social butterfly, which, in turn, means I’m a rockstar at team building. Can you spot the inter-office activity I haven’t organized from the list below?

• Breakfast Sandwich Fridays: Co-workers rotate responsibility of providing ingredients for customizable sandwiches. Mimosas may have been involved. • “Sound of Music” Soundtrack Singalong Thursdays. The majority of...

Industry News & Opinion
k-12

The School Nutrition Foundation —the School Nutrition Association’s philanthropic sibling—and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign have partnered to launch an initiative called Schools as Nutrition Hubs.

“No Kid Hungry really sees schools as a critical place in the fight against childhood hunger,” says Laura Hatch, director of national partnerships for No Kid Hungry. “Schools are really a no-brainer because they have the infrastructure, they have the experience, it’s a trusted place for families. And being able to maximize their programs and maximize the federal...

Ideas and Innovation
walk-in cooler

The walk-in cooler can serve as a gathering place for more than just produce. When temperatures rise, staff at Empire State South restaurant in Atlanta host meetings in the walk-in and make occasional trips to hang out throughout the day to beat the back-of-house heat.

FSD Resources