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

Managing Your Business
hand selecting picture

According to the Wall Street Journal, new artificial intelligence technologies are designed to assist HR each step of the way, from recruitment to retention. They scour the internet for suitable job candidates; they take new employees through the onboarding process; they answer benefits questions; and they even scan employee correspondence for signs of unhappiness or counterproductivity. But do they make sense for foodservice operators?

“Anything that can help technology-wise, why not?” says David Hill, director of dining hall operations at the University of New Hampshire . “It...

Industry News & Opinion

Amherst-Pelham Regional School District in Amherst, Mass., is updating its lunch debt policy to no longer single out students, MassLive reports.

Under the new policy, students with lunch debt will be given the same meals as their peers, regardless of how much they owe. School officials will also be communicating directly with parents of students who have accumulated debt instead of through the students themselves.

The updated policy comes just before U.S. school districts will be required to publicly list their lunch debt policies, per new USDA requirements starting July 1...

Menu Development
eureka

Since California’s state motto is “Eureka!” it seems fitting that a recent conversation with the director of hospitality at San Diego’s Palomar Health led to the biggest aha moment I’ve had in a long time.

I called Jim Metzger in late April with the purpose of discussing Palomar’s recent commitment to the goal of making 60% of its total menu plant-based by this summer. It seemed a lofty number, and I was curious how the public health system planned to get there.

But my personal eureka didn’t come while we were talking about how Palomar had cleaned up the impulse-buy zones...

Industry News & Opinion

Labeling foods with indulgent buzzwords such as “sweet sizzlin’” and “crispy” can lead consumers to make healthier food choices , according to a recent study out of Stanford University .

In the fall 2016 study, researchers labeled vegetables in one of the school’s dining halls using terms from four categories: basic, healthy restrictive, healthy positive or indulgent.

The green beans, for example, were listed as “green beans” for basic, “light ‘n’ low-carb green beans and shallots” for healthy restrictive, “healthy energy boosting green beans and shallots” for healthy...

FSD Resources