Throw in the towel?

Articles questioning if the USDA should just give up do not sit well with Paul King.

Well, the new school meal guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture were released Wednesday, and the early commentary is pretty predictable. The School Nutrition Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly ADA) are strongly supportive of the new measures. Fruit and vegetable growers and suppliers are happy; meat producers, not so much.

As of this writing, I’ve only found one newspaper columnist who has written about the announcement. Michael A. Walsh, with the tabloid New York Post, weighed in Thursday and—not surprising to anyone familiar with this conservative newspaper—his comments were on the negative side.

I mention the column, instead of ignoring it, because I found it so amusing. Under the headline, “Why the cafeteria crusade is a crock,” Walsh starts his screed with a little hyberbole: “There’s nothing about rutabagas in the Constitution, but that isn’t stopping the Department of Agriculture from trying to shove them down your kids’ throats.”

He continues with the listing of the USDA’s ‘crime’: “Under new school-lunch standards unveiled by First Lady Michelle Obama, public schools are now required to offer fruits and vegetables daily, along with more whole-grain foods, low-fat milk and lower sodium. Oh yes, and there will be calorie counting, too.”

Now, after acknowledging that “it’s a good cause,” and citing studies about rising rates of obesity in this country—especially among children—Walsh lists his reasons for objecting to this “crusade.” Too costly? Too unworkable, given schools’ often limited kitchen space and equipment?

No, Walsh doesn’t suggest these problems. Instead, he argues, USDA’s new regulations are a waste of time because of one basic societal fact: people today choose to eat unhealthy foods.

“Poor nutrition is now a choice, not a fate,” he wrote, “and some families simply choose better. No amount of government coercion is going to change that. Because human beings will always find a way to do what they want to do.”

In other words, Walsh believes we’ve lost the war of the waistline, and so the USDA shouldn’t even try. Throw in the towel and serve up the burgers; obesity is here to stay. We’re here, we’re fat, get used to us.

To prove his “point,” he cited the Los Angeles Unified School District, where a menu revamp was scrapped and reworked after students rebelled.

In his 640-word op-ed piece, there was one statement with which I could agree. “The proper place to learn about nutrition is in the home. Pretend however you like, neither schools nor the government can magically make up the difference if parents fail to do their job.”

Walsh is right about that. But that doesn’t mean that schools and the government shouldn’t try. If they can’t make up the difference, at least they can make a difference.

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
usa map regions

From global flavors to clean labels, it’s clear that some buzzworthy noncommercial menu trends are universal. But FoodService Director ’s 2016 surveys have revealed some noteworthy differences within segments in the Northeast, South, Midwest and West regions. We combed through data from our College and University Census, Hospital Census and Long-Term Care/Senior Living Census for the most surprising variations in menu trends and expectations.

1. Plant-based dishes are on the rise at Midwestern colleges and universities

Seventy-seven percent of C&U operators in this region say...

Industry News & Opinion

Ithaca College is turning to new solutions to address overcrowding at a dining hall that is already understaffed, The Ithacan reports .

The Ithaca, N.Y., school's Terrace Dining Hall has seen a large influx of students this year after being renovated, causing lines to wrap around the dining hall.

To ease congestion, Sodexo Area General Manager Jeffrey Scott told The Ithacan that the eatery has added a separate entree line, as well as signage displaying menu items at less-crowded food stations in an effort to draw students to the other side of the dining hall.

The...

Menu Development
mac cheese pizza

Anybody think the popularity of mac and cheese has played out? Anyone?

More likely, foodservice directors are trying to bake new life into the comfort staple by tweaking the presentation and components. Here’s a snapshot of how that rejuvenation effort looks in streetside restaurants.

Industry News & Opinion

Noncommercial foodservice operations and other employers would be spared from costly new overtime pay regulations if 21 states succeed in the legal challenge they jointly filed yesterday.

The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to set aside the rules, which are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1.

If the court rejects the request, restaurants and other businesses will be required after that date to pay overtime to any salaried employee who works more than 40 hours in a week and earns less than $47,476 on an annual basis.

The...

FSD Resources