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 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
star wars storm trooper

My favorite event—because I’m kind of dorky—is our “May the fourth be with you” (aka “Star Wars”) day on May 4. The whole dining team dresses up, and we offer things like Chewbaklava, Boba Fettuccine and BB-8 Buckeyes. We had a guest cry because they got to take a picture with Chewy.

Menu Development
spilled coffee beans glasses

Following an initial test at the end of May, Starbucks announced that more than 500 of its stores will be pouring nitro coffee by the end of summer. Capitalizing on the cold-brew coffee trend—which reached $7.9 million in sales in 2015 on 115% growth from the previous year, according to researcher Mintel—select U.S. cafes will give up the counter space to serve the creamy, nitrogen-infused java made from the cold-brew base. But how did nitro become the hottest new thing in coffee?

Bringing the bar to coffeehouses

It was the chrome double tap, similar to a bar’s beer tap, and the...

Ideas and Innovation
tray number

We created lucky tray days to help create an experience surrounding our brand. The trays are numbered; we pick a number and the winner receives a free lunch. We’ve enlisted the help of one of our coaches, who calls out the random lucky winner, and it drums up a lot of excitement.

Menu Development
recipe revamp chicken soup

As a continuous care retirement community, The Garlands of Barrington in Illinois provides daily foodservice to 270 independent living and skilled nursing care residents, with the majority of sodium restrictions coming from the latter, says Executive Chef Nicola Torres. Instead of cooking two versions of chicken noodle soup—a favorite offered at least twice a week—he reworked his recipe into a flavorful lower-sodium version that appeals to all. “Everybody eats soup, so I created a homemade stock that uses no salt at all, ramping up the flavor with fresh herbs and plenty of vegetables,...

FSD Resources