Feds save sodas From Bloomberg

Bloomberg's soda ban for food stamps denied

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made a goal of his third term in office to make his constituency as healthy as possible, in spite of themselves. He has gotten a law passed to force restaurants to place calorie counts on their menu items, and has attacked salt and sugar vigorously.

His latest attempt has run aground, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA last week denied the mayor a waiver that would have allowed the city to prevent residents from buying sugar-sweetened soft drinks with food stamps.

In denying the waiver, which would have allowed the city to set up a ban on a temporary basis, to be evaluated, the USDA stated that it “had concerns about the plans potential viability and effectiveness.” Specifically, according to an article on the Yahoo! News website, the proposal didn’t do enough to spell out which products would be affected, take into account the impact on retailers and didn’t outline well enough how the city would evaluate the ban’s effectiveness on curbing obesity.

According to the mayor’s proposal, the ban would have applied to any sweetened soft drink that contained more than 10 calories per eight ounces.

I’m of two minds when it comes to the idea of a “Nanny State” such as Bloomberg is trying to effect. On the one hand, I’m not comfortable with the government having a heavy hand in the choices I’m allowed to make as a consumer. On the other hand, as someone who does a lot of grocery shopping, I have witnessed food stamp recipients using their government benefits to make a host of unhealthy choices. I often think, “Shouldn’t you be buying more nutritious food for your children with those stamps, and use your own money for snacks and such?” Then again, I’ve never had to use food stamps or other government hand-outs, so I’ve not walked in their shoes.

The debate centers around whether the government should be allowed to control how the indigent spend the money the government gives them. Do people have a right to, in Mayor Bloomberg’s opinion, abuse their bodies and those of their children with government money? Of course, the mayor thinks not—he doesn’t even think people should be making unhealthy choices with their own money.

So, how much of a say should our elected officials have in how food stamp recipients use those vouchers? Readers, what are your thoughts?

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Hutchinson Middle School in Hutchinson, Minn., invited students to help serve lunch in an effort to encourage their peers to try new, healthy recipes, Hutchinson Leader reports.

The students, who are part of the school’s Students in Action Club, created posters to advertise the new meal and helped serve it to students during lunch.

The school’s kitchen manager, Janet Schmidt, said that around 37 more students than normal got in line to try the meal. The school plans to have students from the club help serve lunch once every month.

Read the full story via Hutchinson...

Industry News & Opinion

In an effort to trim costs, the country’s largest senior living company laid off 100 staff members, including regional dining services directors, reports Senior Housing News .

Not all employees who were laid off will technically leave the company, Senior Housing News notes, as some will be reassigned to alternative positions. Brookdale recently posted third-quarter earnings that fell short of analysts’ expectations and that the company’s CEO called disappointing.

At the end of last year, the Brentwood, Tenn.-based company employed 53,000 workers on a full-time basis, and...

Industry News & Opinion

After receiving mixed feedback from parents, Randolph County School District in Asheboro, N.C., is inviting parents to tour the district’s kitchens and cafeterias to see how the food for school meals is made, Fox 8 reports.

School officials say that the tours, part of the district’s first Food Day for Parents, will give parents an inside look at the upkeep of the facilities, as well as enable them to sample some food and see how the district is upholding USDA guidelines.

Officials also hope that the tours will provide them with more guidance on what parents and students are...

Industry News & Opinion

After fielding complaints from parents and students, Sodexo is launching an initiative to improve dining services at Emerson College in Boston, the Berkeley Beacon reports.

The initiative will kick off this month with an event dubbed Fresh Start, marking the start of several moves aimed at improving service—including the hiring of a new executive chef, the addition of a second sous chef, and retraining current staff on food preparation and presentation.

Members of the Emerson community will also be able to share feedback through the introduction of monthly forums, as well...

FSD Resources