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

USDA rules continue to bring challenges

Meal requirements for whole grains, sodium reductions and competitive foods continue to make school foodservice programs more difficult to operate, directors say.  Generally, however, the largest districts have found following the new regulations to be less challenging than have other size districts:

SIZE OF DISTRICT PERCENTAGE MEETING 100% WHOLE GRAIN REQUIREMENTS HAS BEEN EXTREMELY OR VERY CHALLENGING MEETING SODIUM REDUCTION REQUIREMENTS HAS BEEN EXTREMELY OR VERY CHALLENGING MEETING COMPETITIVE FOOD (AKA SMART SNACKS) REGULATIONS HAS BEEN EXTREMELY OR VERY CHALLENGING
<2,000 52% 70% 65%
2,000-4,999 52% 76% 69%
5,000-9,999 62% 69% 71%
10,000-69,999 45% 70% 67%
>70,000 25% 58% 36%

Dropping out of the NSLP

Even though the USDA regulations frustrate many operators, relatively few districts say they have dropped out, or have considered dropping out, of the National School Lunch Program. The most onerous regulation seems to be the competitive foods rule: Of the districts that have left or are considering leaving the program, 40 percent say it is because of the "Smart Snack" rule.

Have any of the schools in your district left the national school lunch program?

Some are considering dropping out 15%
None of our schools have dropped out 84%
Some have dropped out 1%

“Smart Snacks” rule costs districts money

One thing most school districts agree on: The implementation of the competitive foods regulations has cost their districts revenue. The loss is being most keenly felt in medium-size (5,000-9,999 student) districts, where 85 percent report that food sales have decreased as a result of implementing the new rules. The average percentage decrease is 25 percent.
 
Since implementing the competitive food regs, have sales increased, decreased or remained the same?
 
smart snacks rule chart

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
roasted butternut tartine

In a bid to meet customers’ growing interest in plant-based dishes, foodservice vendor Aramark will soon roll out a number of new meatless dishes on the college campuses it serves.

Some of the new plant-centric items it’s taking to colleges this fall include the Greek-inspired Spanakopita Quesadilla, an open-faced sandwich topped with roasted butternut squash and the Sweet Potato Smash sandwich (sweet potato, cranberry sauce and goat cheese on ciabatta bread).

Nearly a third (30%) of the entrees Aramark serves up at colleges are either vegetarian or vegan, the...

Industry News & Opinion

$1.5 million will be used to increase farm-to-school programs in the state.

Sponsored Content
cheese and pretzels

From AFP advanced food products llc

Foodservice operators are tasked with doing more with less—and managing food inventory is no exception.

All foodservice operations want to keep inventory at minimum, and operators are reducing the ingredients needed in their kitchens through strategic and savvy menu building.

There are a few primary reasons for the reduction in ingredients: cost, quality and space. By buying larger quantities, an operator can get better per unit ingredient costs. And by functioning on a limited number of ingredients, the inventory is used faster...

Industry News & Opinion

Bakersfield City School District is expanding the number of schools participating in a program to donate leftover cafeteria food to local shelters, Bakersfield.com reports.

The program, called Waste Hunger, Not Food, began last April in partnership with the county health department. Due to its initial success, the program is expanding from one elementary school to six schools starting this school year.

Under the program, students place unopened milk cartons, whole fresh foods and unopened prepackaged food that they don’t want into three separate bins. The health department...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code