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

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