School food fight

The battle over healthier school meals is not unique to the United States.

There is an interesting battle going on between high school students and the government—and even among elected officials themselves—over whether the government has the right to dictate to students what they can eat. Two students have even taken the fight to YouTube, posting a video in which they interview fellow students about their food preferences and what they think about the government’s mandate on healthier food in school cafeterias.

But this particular drama isn’t being played out here in the United States. Instead, it’s happening in our neighbor to the north, Canada. In the wake of an edict by the Ontario provincial government banning junk food in schools, cafeterias are reportedly going bankrupt, students are decrying the loss of their “freedom of choice,” and provincial leaders are squabbling among themselves over whether the government has made the right move.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is unapologetic. He told reporters last week that schools simply have to “be more creative” with menus to make the healthier food guidelines work.
“We put a man on the moon 40 years ago,” he was quoted in The National Post. “Don’t tell me that we can’t make healthy, delicious, tasty attractive food for teenagers in the province of Ontario in 2012.”

Personally, I find the political bickering to be the most interesting aspect of this “food fight.” Critics say the mandate was ill-conceived. Defenders say school districts simply aren’t trying hard enough. The peacemakers argue that the plan is a good one, but better education is needed to help students make informed decisions about their food choices. Students basically respond with, “let us eat whatever we want.”

And here in the United States, school foodservice professionals would like to say to their northern colleagues, “Welcome to our world.”

Watch one of the videos below.

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