Ready, fire, aim

Everyone knows that the federal government moves at the speed of a super slo-mo video. Government lobbyists, on the other hand, can attain warp speed whenever they need to.

Employees of the U.S. House of Representatives who eat in the Longworth cafeteria saw political activism in, well, action in June when someone got the idea to promote Meatless Mondays. One day in early June, a sign appeared at one of the stations in the cafeteria servery. According to published accounts, the station was touting some new vegetarian options. 

Within days, the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition (FAWC)—a lobbying group that represents beef, chicken and pork ranchers and producers—fired off a letter to the House Administration Committee and to Restaurant Associates (RA), the management firm that runs foodservice in the House. Complaining that Meatless Mondays is a “tool of animal rights and environmental organizations who seek to publicly denigrate U.S. livestock and poultry production,” FAWC demanded an end to the program.

That was that. Meatless Mondays closed faster than a Broadway flop. United Press International quoted Dan Weiser, spokesperson for the House Administration’s Chief Administrative Office, as saying that the cafeteria was never going to go meatless. RA was just seeking to promote vegetarian and vegan options in the cafeteria.

“It was one sign, one station, one day,” Weiser said.

A lobbyist for FAWC, Steve Kopperud, told Politico.com that the group isn’t against vegetarian food; it was the use of the term Meatless Mondays to which FAWC objected.

This is not the first time the federal government has felt the wrath of the meat industry over Meatless Mondays. Last year, a similar attempt was made at the USDA cafeteria, in the employee newsletter. USDA officials quickly apologized, saying the newsletter article had not been approved. But that didn’t stop two congressmen from venting their spleens. Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Steve King, both Republicans from Iowa, took to Twitter to denounce the idea.

“I will eat more meat on Monday to compensate for stupid USDA recommendation abt (sic) a meatless Monday,” Grassley tweeted. King followed that with, “USDA HQ meatless Mondays!!! At the Dept. Of Agriculture? Heresy! I’m not grazing there. I will have double rib-eye Mondays instead.”

I’m not sure how I feel about Meatless Mondays. On the one hand, it is a catchy way to call people’s attention to the fact that man does not live by beef—or pork or chicken—alone, and I know of several institutions where Meatless Mondays have been embraced. On the other hand, why can’t foodservice providers come up with a way to simply promote the consuming of a wide variety of foods, both plant- and animal-based? That’s how I try to approach my dining habits. 

But if the Longworth/RA effort was in fact designed to promote vegetarian choices and not a plan to remove all meat from the café for even one day, wasn’t FAWC just a little too quick to pull the trigger and fire off its missive to the House? 

There should be some middle ground here. Aren’t fruit and vegetable farmers constituents too? Why shouldn’t we be advocating for their products as well? What we need is dialogue, not demagoguery. 

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
condiments

It’s still true that diners want it their way. But the straightforward, choose-your-toppings Chipotle model is, as the kids say, so basic. The noncommercial diners of 2018 are coming to the table with expectations for meals that fit their personalized needs, from portion size to protein type, calories and more. Operators are responding by pushing beyond the basics with spice-your-own-soup bars, specialty condiment stations and serving size tweaks cooked a la minute.

For some operations, the next phase truly revs up the personal part of personalization, turning diners into chefs...

Managing Your Business
glendale senior dining catering

At the residential facilities Glendale Senior Dining serves, catered birthday and anniversary parties, summer barbecues and other private on- and off-site events give senior residents a convenient alternative to cooking themselves, Director of Business Development Todd Lindsay says.

For these events, Glendale, which serves locations throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, will often tap employees from nearby units to take on catering events; and for weekend or summer engagements, it will reach out to the parent company’s school dining division for a few extra hands.

“We...

Industry News & Opinion
Shedd Aquarium White Sox Shedd The Straw

The Chicago White Sox have partnered with the Shedd Aquarium to support their “Shedd the Straw” initiative: a plan that the groups expect to curb the use of plastic straws by about 215,000 this baseball season.

Beginning on Earth Day, April 22, drinks at all dining locations throughout the Sox’s Guaranteed Rate Field will not be automatically served with plastic straws. Guests will be provided with biodegradable straws upon request. Guaranteed Rate Field is said to be the first in Major League Baseball to ban the use of plastic straws.

“At one of Shedd Aquarium’s local...

Industry News & Opinion

The Henry P. Kendall Foundation, a philanthropic group that aims to create a more sustainable food system in New England, has announced its creation of the New England Food Vision Prize .

The foundation is inviting foodservice leaders from colleges and universities throughout New England to submit their ideas on how to create a stronger food system that will help the region produce at least half of its own food by 2060.

Qualifying ideas must be collaborative and replicable, among other requirements. The foundation hopes that by reaching out to large food purchasers, like...

FSD Resources