2015 K-12 Census: USDA regulations continue to confound schools

Despite their best efforts, operators still struggle to satisfy healthy menu requirements.

confused school girl

A recent survey of its members by the School Nutrition Association revealed that many operators are facing moderate to serious  
challenges in meeting the stricter nutritional requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For example, in the SNA survey 87 percent of respondents said increased food waste was a major problem. A similar percentage reported having challenges meeting new, lower sodium requirements, and 92 percent of operators said their food costs have increased since implementing the standards.

“Unfortunately, since the new nutrition standards took effect, SNA has heard from an overwhelming majority of members who have encountered myriad problems and support requests for flexibility,” said SNA CEO Patricia Montague, when the report was released in December.

The results of that survey echoed what FoodService Director readers told us recently in the 2015 K-12 School Census that polled 343 foodservice directors. For example:

  • 80 percent of respondents to our survey said having to increase the amount of fruit offered at breakfast has resulted in increased food waste.
  • 93 percent said their costs have risen, with the average increase being 15 percent.
  • 51 percent reported that meeting the 100 percent whole grain requirement at lunch has been extremely or very challenging.
  • 71 percent said the same of meeting lower sodium requirement.
  • 66 percent are struggling with satisfying requirements of the new competitive foods (aka Smart Snacks) rules.

On the flip side, only 16 percent of operators indicated that they have considered dropping out of the National School Lunch Program because of the new regulations, suggesting that most school districts are willing to continue trying to make the regulations work.

Breakfast numbers: Up or down?

More than 96 percent of operators responding to the K-12 Census say they offer breakfast in at least one type of school (Pre-K to grade 5, grades 6 to 8 and grades 9 to 12), with 100 percent of school districts with 70,000 or more students offering breakfast to all grade levels.

When asked what the new USDA-mandated breakfast meal regulations have meant for breakfast participation, responses were fairly split. However, the smallest districts (less than 2,000 students) were most likely, at 39 percent, to have seen a decrease in participation. The largest districts, at 67 percent, were most likely to have seen an increase in customers.

Since implementing the new meal breakfast regulations, has your participation increased, decreased or remained the same?

breakfast regulation participation chart

How challenging has it been to implement the increased amount of fruit at breakfast?

challenging fruit breakfast charg

Pages

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
deep fryers

From Restaurant Technologies.

Today’s modern consumer, when dining out, is not just looking for great tasting food. A growing number of diners are also looking for restaurants that employ environmentally friendly practices. In fact, 57% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase food and beverages if they are sustainable, according to Technomic’s recent Healthy Eating report, while data from Restaurant Technologies finds that 78% of restaurant patrons say they would be likely to choose one restaurant over another if they knew its menu and operations were sustainable....

Ideas and Innovation
mongolian grill

We started an express to-go program with set menu items that we’re also serving in our Mongolian grill and grill area that day. It decreases wait times by two thirds in some cases. Our customers are really happy with it.

Sponsored Content
healthcare foodservice coffee

From Smucker Away From Home.

Foodservice operators face a tall order when it comes to managing coffee service efficiently and profitably, not to mention meeting the standards of high quality and variety that consumers demand these days. According to Technomic’s 2018 Beverage report, consumers purchase an average of 3.8 beverages per week away from home; in terms of coffee, 37% of consumers say they are ordering it more now than they were two years ago.

That means there’s a lot of opportunity for foodservice establishments to attract consumers’ coffee dollars. In the...

Managing Your Business
kitchen staff

If noncommercial operators hope to pull job candidates away from restaurant jobs, here’s what they’ll need to offer, according to a flurry of new research.

The data underscore that pay, once third or fourth on most lists of the reasons foodservice employees leave a position, is becoming a far more important consideration for taking or keeping a job. Financial security is particularly important for members of so-called Gen Z, or what’s being defined as young people age 21 and under, according to the study just released by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code