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

Industry News & Opinion

The Los Angeles Unified School District has lifted its ban on flavored milk in an effort to reduce food waste, the Los Angeles Times reports.

After implementing the ban in 2011, the district noticed that many students would simply throw away their unused milk containers, causing them to end up in landfills. In order to combat the problem, the district’s board is launching a four-part study in 21 schools that will examine different ways to encourage kids to drink more plain milk.

One of the theories proposed is that students will be more likely to drink plain milk if they...

Industry News & Opinion

As Harvard University’s dining staff strike continues , the school has added an extra $25 to student accounts, providing more flexibility for students to eat outside of the dining halls, The Harvard Crimson reports.

The extra funds were added to Crimson Cash and BoardPlus accounts, which students can use to pay for food both on and off campus.

Aside from some technical issues with payment processing, students are grateful for the extra money, according to The Harvard Crimson.

Since the strike began two weeks ago, students have complained about food quality in the...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo aims to reduce carbon emissions by 34% at its foodservice and facilities management sites by 2025, a goal it says it will reach through such changes as converting cooking oil into biodiesel fuel and using energy-efficient HVAC systems.

In announcing this endeavor toward sustainability, Sodexo—which manages more than 32,000 sites globally—noted that over 7,200 of its sites in North America recycle aluminum and paper, and 8,640 recycle cardboard.

Menu Development
chefs council spread

Last October, we published the results of FoodService Director’s first annual Chefs’ Council Menu Trends survey, revealing predictions for menu shake-ups in 2016 . Many of the predictions panned out, including an increase in snacking, ever-spicier flavor profiles, veg-centric plates, fresh-pressed juices and build-your-own options. Now we’re back with next year’s forecast, culled from our panel of 50 Chefs’ Council members—culinarians representing the core segments of noncommercial foodservice. Some of the flavors, ingredients and cuisines expand on current trends, while others go off in...

FSD Resources