Did the USDA Learn from Last Year’s Ill Feelings Over New School Regs?

This time around, the USDA has provided alternatives and asked for help deciding which option will work best.

Perhaps the USDA learned something from the release of last year’s new meal pattern regulations.

Last week the organization released its latest set of proposed regulations for school food. These rules affect competitive foods and snacks. Reading through the regs I was pleased to see that the USDA, in several cases, has offered alternative proposals for specific requirements. The organization has asked for child nutrition professionals to comment on which option would be a better fit.

That’s a nice departure from last year’s regs, when alternatives were not offered. The USDA, as required by law, did have a public comment period for operators to provide their thoughts. But this time around the USDA is asking for operators to provide them with feedback on specific options. Why is that important? Many child nutrition directors expressed some version of the following sentiment regarding the release of last year’s regs, “No one asked us what would work or not work.”

Even if the USDA already has its preferred method in mind, by getting those people who actually have to implement these standards directly involved in the decision-making process, they might feel a little more ownership over the regs. That could lead to less grumbling this time around. 

Keywords: 
new concepts

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chefs

We started inviting chefs and FSDs from other districts to come prepare lunch. Through featuring different chefs and chef-inspired meals, I’ve found the students have been looking forward to coming into the cafeteria. They are willing to try new things with crazy names, and to ask for their favorite outside items turned healthy.

Ideas and Innovation
tapas

I’ve created a high school “focus group” to see what future college students will want in terms of foodservice. This year, I called up two now-seniors from the last group to get 10 of their friends together. I also include a sophomore or two so that I always have a contact for next year. Tapas, grain bowls and late-night breakfast all originated from this group.

Ideas and Innovation
making meals

This summer, we teamed up with a church to deliver meals to three housing projects. We brought the meals to the church, and then the church recruited volunteers to deliver the meals to the children. We’ve been very impressed with this new model, and it shows great promise in getting meals to children who otherwise would not be able to leave their housing project.

Industry News & Opinion
sharing love

Having never personally experienced a hurricane, I can only imagine the horrors faced by the millions of people whose lives were affected by Harvey and Irma in late August and early September. It’s a group that comprises uncounted noncommercial operations, including Houston Independent School District, which serves 215,000 students.

But from that tragedy has come one of the most impressive feats of foodservice I’ve seen since coming on board at this magazine, partially spearheaded by Nutrition Officer Betti Wiggins , who only just joined the district. For the entire school year,...

FSD Resources