Keep those cards and letters coming

Comments from readers suggest controversy over new school meal regulations may just be heating up.

I just finished the research and interviews for our November cover story, entitled "Schools’ New Balancing Act," at about the time our October issue hit readers’ desks. One of the elements of that issue was my Opinion piece called "Building Rome in a Day." The catalyst for the column—as well as our upcoming feature—was a proposal by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) to rescind the calorie-limit portion of the new U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations that are currently causing school foodservice directors so much agita.

Well, letters already have begun reaching my desk from school foodservice directors applauding my stand and adding their own thoughts to what I already had been hearing from their colleagues.

“I have never seen so many comments from the public and school officials in our state on one subject,” wrote one director from South Dakota. “Putting [a] maximum on calories, protein and breads has really taken away from the schools to decide what is the best way to feed their kids.”

And she is not the only person to wonder aloud why the regulations are so specific and rigid.

Another director, who was once the director of a childhood obesity program and whose specialty is diabetes education, commented that the drafters of the regulations “can't possibly know or understand the unintended consequences.”

“This might be characterized as prescribing therapeutic diets for children, most of whom (85%) are not obese and do not have any medical conditions requiring dietary intervention,” the director suggested. “To my knowledge, there are no scientific studies to support specific calorie and sodium requirements for healthy children. I am, and continue to be an advocate for healthy eating and exercise. I have practiced that lifestyle both personally and professionally. I also know that "one size" does not "fit all" and never will.

 “A meal plan as specific as these that we are being required to serve can not possibly be equally adequate and/or satisfying for both our student athletes who work out two to four hours each day as well as our students who spend more time with books and less physically active pursuits. Public school food service did not cause the childhood obesity epidemic and public school food service will not cure it.”

I can only imagine what correspondence will be generated by the November cover story. But this is a subject that will continue to create controversy as the months wear on. In print and online, we will keep reporting on developments as they occur.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
shaking hands graphic

Anyone who has moseyed down the self-help section of the local bookstore, probably has picked up on the mantra that positive relationships are built on trust. Employer-employee bonds are no different, according to research published in the January-February issue of Harvard Business Review. The study reports that employees at high-trust companies experience 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days and 76% more engagement. Here’s how operators can start putting those numbers on the board.

Putting in the effort

At the University of...

Ideas and Innovation
bowling ball pins

We patterned our chef culinary competition after the one pioneered by the University of Massachusetts. This year, 11 teams of college chefs registered. Each team gets the same market basket and has two hours to prepare three dishes. The starting times have to be staggered and nobody wants the 6 a.m. slot, so instead of randomly assigning times, this year we took the teams bowling and used their scores to determine starting times. The two teams with the highest combined bowling score got to pick their time slot first. Going bowling built camaraderie and team spirit before the teams even got...

Managing Your Business
performance review anxiety

For all the most obvious reasons, managers and staff don’t always agree. But both sides can get behind retiring annual performance reviews, according to a January survey from software company Adobe, which quit the practice in 2012. There, 64% of surveyed workers and 62% of supervisors consider yearly evaluations outdated.

“My philosophy is if I have to wait a year to tell you where you stand, it’s a little too late,” says Al Ferrone, senior director of dining services at the University of California at Los Angeles. Ferrone and other operators are reforming the meetings to add real...

Ideas and Innovation
woman sick phone bed

Our employees have paid time off, but if they don’t call in at least one hour before their scheduled shift, their PTO will be docked for the day. We also assign points for unapproved absences. Everyone starts with a freebie, and when they get to 4, then we start the disciplinary action process. When a staff member gets to 10 points, that is grounds for termination.

FSD Resources