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

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...

Industry News & Opinion

The new unpaid-balance policy at Canon-McMillan School District in Pittsburgh is making waves after a former cafeteria worker sounded off about the practice on social media.

Stacy Koltiska said she quit her job with the district after being forced to take hot meals away from students who owed lunch money, CBS News reports .

Under a new policy that was implemented at Canon-McMillan this year, students whose lunch debt exceeds $25 are not allowed to receive a hot lunch. Children in grades K-6 are given a sandwich in its place, and older students receive no lunch. A recent...

Industry News & Opinion

Due to low participation in its lunch program, Talawanda School District in Oxford, Ohio, is raising the price of school meals this year, Patch.com reports .

The cost of school lunches will see a 30-cent increase, half of which is being enacted to cover the district’s budget. The other half is being required by the government to cover the cost of free and reduced-price lunches provided to low-income families. Prior to this year, the district had not raised prices since 2009.

The district’s cafeterias have experienced a decline in student participation since implementing the...

Industry News & Opinion

Six Philadelphia hospitals were honored by the city’s department of public health for healthy food initiatives introduced as part of the local Good Food, Healthy Hospitals program, bizjournals.com reports .

The hospitals each debuted healthy measures to their dining services, such as lowering the cost of water bottles and seltzers, and offering dishes that incorporate local produce. One hospital was also honored for operating its own organic farm.

The facilities that were honored were:

Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Eastern...

FSD Resources