School Foodservice & Other News

Catch up on the latest news.

The U.S. Congress has taken the first step toward reauthorization of the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved a $121 billion total package of nutrition funding, which includes such aid programs as Food Stamps, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs and aid for dairy farmers.

The child nutrition portion of that package is $16.9 billion, a 12% increase over last year’s entitlement. (Read Story: Here ). What portion of that money would be allocated to school foodservice programs could not be discerned from the article.

In this recessionary economy, that figure might represent a healthy increase. Apparently, the entire package represents a large enough increase that some Republicans were grumbling about the bill, which passed the House 263-162. "Our country is working to scrape its way out of a debilitating recession, and now is not the time to divert our precious resources to massive spending," said California Rep. Jerry Lewis, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Lewis’s comments notwithstanding, the federal aid is nowhere near what school foodservice programs need in order to realistically meet the kinds of health mandates being placed on them at the state and local level. It certainly falls far short of what some activists say would be required.

The few foodservice directors I tried to talk with said either they hadn’t yet seen the news reports, or they wanted to wait until the legislation is signed by President Obama before commenting. That’s fair, because the bill may undergo alterations before it reaches the president’s desk. But from where I sit, although it would appear that the package is not a step backward, as it might have been under a Republican-led Congress, it hardly is a step forward, either.

Speaking of news reports, there was a nice article in the Pittsburgh PostGazette Thursday on Jamie Moore, the director of sourcing and sustainability for the East ‘n’ Park Hospitality Group, of which contract entities Parkhurst Dining and Cura Hospitality are part. www.post-gazette.com/pg/09281/1003724-34.stm

I’ve spoken with Jamie a few times over the years, and we have highlighted some of his efforts in the pages of FoodServiceDirector. Feeling as I do that noncommercial foodservice doesn’t get enough favorable coverage in the consumer media, it was heartening to see the P-G’s handling of this timely topic.

But the advocate in me couldn’t help but take note of two elements that indicate that noncommercial foodservice, in the words of the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield, still “don’t get no respect.”

First is the fact that the author, Virginia Philips, was not a P-G staffer but a freelance writer who also is regional national governor of Slow Food USA, an advocacy group for the use of local, organic and sustainable foods. For me, the article would have meant more had it been assigned to a disinterested reporter.

Second, the article referred to Eat ‘n’ Park repeatedly, but never mentioned Parkhurst or Cura. But Jamie’s work with sustainability began with Parkhurst and expanded to include the whole company. However, for most western Pennsylvanians, Eat ‘n’ Park is the name they know, so that’s what gets the play.

It’s a piddling little point, I know, but what can I say? It’s the principle of the thing.

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