Tag Archives: childhood obesity


Central’s Week in Brief: August 26, 2011

Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We’ll feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more.  It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!

Soda1)      The U.S. Department of Agriculture said no to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban the purchase of soda and other sugary drinks using food stamps.    According to CBS News, “The ban would have applied to any sweetened beverage that contains more than 10 calories per eight ounces.”  The proposal was turned down due to issues like  the time it may take to decide what would or wouldn’t qualify and that it might make those using the stamps feel stigmatized.

2)      Once known for his affinity for fatty foods like McDonald’s hamburgers, former president Bill Clinton has decided to go vegan.  USA Today reported that Clinton, “…is following this eating plan to improve his heart health.”  The former president has had surgery on his heart twice since 2004.  For more information on living the vegan lifestyle, check out our post on vegan and vegetarianism.

3)      Morton’s The Steakhouse took customer service to the next level using social media.  After Peter Shankman, a public relations professional, tweeted about wanting a steak dinner, a Morton’s staff member actually met him at the airport with a 24-ounce Porterhouse steak, Colossal Shrimp and potatoes.  Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Morton’s, Roger Drake, told Smart Blog on Restaurants, “These things don’t happen unless it’s part of your culture, and that is really what Morton’s is all about: noticing little details, making it a memorable dining experience and wowing our guests.”  It also doesn’t hurt business that all of Morton’s and Shankman’s Twitter followers witnessed this act of kindness.

4)       A report done by the Union of Concerned Scientists has found that the amount of U.S. farmers markets has almost tripled within the last decade.  According to an article on Triple Pundit the markets went from, “2,863 in 2000 to 6,132 in 2010 and over 100,000 farmers are selling their products to customers directly.”   This boom of markets has help to boost local economies, but the report’s author, Jeffrey O’Hara, believes that if more government assistance  were provided to these types of farming practices instead of more industrial farms, it could generate “tens of thousands of new jobs.”

5)    With a new school year comes a new, healthier menu for 480 school districts being provided with food by the Sodexo company.  In order to help the fight against obesity and expand the tastes of students, Sodexo will now offer items like Mediterranean Lentil Soup and Tropical Vegetable Tofu.  According to a press release, “Sodexo’s team of culinary experts, including chefs at school districts nationwide, developed recipes that entice students and meet USDA’s National School Lunch Program guidelines.”  

If you’d like to try out a version of the Mediterranean Lentil Soup, check out this version from Epicurious.

Central’s Week in Brief: August 19, 2011

Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more. It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!

 1. While food trucks and restaurants have been battling it out since the trend began, a part of Canada may just be figuring out how to make the relationship work.  This Calgary Herald article discusses a new food truck pilot program, which essentially maps out where food trucks can park. One of the individuals interviewed even told the reporter he had received calls from restaurants and pubs in the area asking he park near them!

2. Lately restaurants have been getting slack for unhealthy menu items, but let’s not forget those who really are making changes for the better.  MSN Fitbie covered the topic showcasing some of these healthier changes such as Cheesecake Factory’s SkinnyLicious menu items, McDonald’s revised Happy Meal that replaces fries with apples and Chick-fil-A’s multigrain oatmeal.

3. Where do Millennials (ages 16-24) enjoy dining the most?  Quick-service restaurants.  It makes sense, after all they are always on the go.  Convenience Store News recently wrote about the Executive Insights report that looked into this, finding 20 percent of Generation Y go to a QSR every other day.  Some favorite QSRs found in the study included Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonalds, Chipolte and Boston Market.

4. Schools are continuously looking for ways to curb childhood obesity.  This USA Today article discusses one of the latest topics from a School Nutrition Association (SNA) survey, which looked into how long students actually have for lunch.  They found the average time was 25-30 minutes, but after factoring in using the restroom then waiting in the lunch line, it’s approximately 10-15 minutes.  SNA found healthy foods can take longer to eat and in a rush, students opt for the unhealthier quicker items. Perhaps making lunch a little longer could help in solving the childhood obesity problem?

5. “Rockuccinos” and “You Shook Me All Night Long Moscatos” makes one wonder if rock bands are taking over the foodservice industry.  Well, it might be a possibility! KISS will be opening up a coffee house in Las Vegas, which will be their second location (the first being in Myrtle Beach).  Then band AC/DC recently announced a new partnership with New South Wales on a wine collection.  This New York Post article mentions some of the names which are “Back in Black” Shiraz, “Highway to Hell” Cabernet Sauvignon and “Hells Bells” Sauvignon Blanc.

Central’s Week in Brief: June 24, 2011

Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We’ll feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more. It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!

1) Keeping up to date with legislation pertaining to the restaurant industry can be hard.  This week, Nation’s Restaurant News posted this update which will inform you about the following five issues that could have an affect on your restaurant: Tip Credit, E-Verify, Corn-Based Ethanol Subsidies, Health Care Reform, Lending Regulations.

2) At the end of last year, we posted 10 foodservice trends for 2011.  To follow up to see how our list is comparing, this week Zagat posted “The 5 Hottest Dining Trends in 2011 So Far.” We’re pleased to see some of the trends such as food trucks and beer, are still on track and going strong!


3) We bid farewell to the food pyramid earlier this month when the government introduced MyPlate.  The USDA describes MyPlate as a “user-friendly visual” of the the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  This Food Safety News article covers the latest on MyPlate including some very helpful hints on how to stay on track.


4) Every Thursday in June we discuss how to use social media for your restaurant. To help encourage restaurants to become involved with social media, this recent article from The Social Graf reported on KN-CMR’s “The Faces of Social Media” study which found 38 million U.S. adults (18-20) said “they discover new products and brands or refer to social media before making purchase decisions.”







5) To curb obesity, school districts like the Central Nebraska School District are making changes.  This AP article, posted on the Daily Journal’s website, explains they have been “using a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education.” This grant has helped them buy equipment, implement programs and train teachers and staff.  While they report 14 percent of the elementary school students are still obese, “three elementary schools have seen decreases in obesity ranging from 23 percent to 27 percent.”

Image from MorgueFile

Flavored Milk: What Side Are You On?

Image from MorgueFileFor most school-aged children going through the lunch line grabbing a carton of chocolate milk out of the milk cooler is as much of a part of their daily routine as sitting in math class or receiving a homework assignment.  It’s always been there as the beverage portion of their lunch, it’s the drink of choice for most and to most it tastes pretty good.   While this may still currently be the norm in many schools across the country, a backlash against this habit is beginning to cause quite a big stir.  This criticism of flavored milk of course has both its supporters and protesters with both sides butting heads with little currently being changed.

The Protesters

It’s first important to take a look at just why something as common as flavored milk is being rallied against in so many school districts across the country.   While this subject is currently at a medium to loud roar, it seems it has been at a slight rumble for years as parents and doctors alike have seen childhood obesity rates steadily increase and have been on the hunt for ways to curb the epidemic.  Studies like the one sited in a recent LA Times article on the subject could be reason enough to take notice.  The study done by the University of Michigan found, “of more than 1,000 sixth-graders found that those who ate school-provided lunches were 29% more likely to be obese than those who brought lunches from home.”  One of the main reasons for this statistic is thought to be the high sugar content of flavored milk which many believe contains far too much sugar for the average student leading to an increase in diabetes, dental issues and obesity among other ailments.

And while many see this as a bunch of hoopla, there may just be some truth behind this high sugar accusation.  According to information from the American Heart Association on the Better DC School Food blog, “A typical eight-ounce serving of chocolate milk contains 14 grams of added sugar, usually in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, which translates as 3.5 teaspoons or 52.5 calories.”   While this may not sound too significant, it must be taken into account that the USDA recommends no more than 2 tsp. or 267 calories from sugar per day based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.  Then consider that the average 4 to 8 year old should only be taking in about 1,200-1,400 calories per day at a maximum as suggested by the American Heart Association.  In the end this means that if a child drinks one eight-ounce serving of chocolate milk for breakfast and another for lunch, they will be consuming about 7 teaspoons or 105 calories from added sugar per day which is about 5 teaspoons more than what is recommended for an adult.

The Supporters

On the other hand there are still several (parents, students and health professionals alike) that feel that children could do many worse things than drinking milk at school.   Pediatric dentist, Mary J. Hayes, DDS, told ABC News that while yes, it’s not exactly ideal to be drinking only chocolate milk, it’s not nearly as bad as it’s been made to seems.  “With any food you’re concerned about both the amount of sugar and the amount of acid, and while chocolate milk is high in sugar it’s not acidic so it doesn’t etch away at tooth enamel as much as some other things do,” said Hayes.  And while the American Dental Association has not come out with an official stand on the subject, kids are still encouraged to drink milk to ensure healthy bones and teeth, which may not happen if the flavored variety of milk disappears from the lunch line.  A study done by MilkDelivers.org, a program funded by America’s milk processors, reports that in a recent survey of 58 elementary and secondary schools that removed chocolate milks for two years, milk consumption dropped by an average of 35%.

Although, a lack of nutrients and an alternative of less healthy choices can cause problems, it may be a financial issue that keeps many districts from jumping on the bandwagon of doing away with flavored milks.    In the LA Times article cited previously, “For the district to receive federal reimbursement for meals, students may not decline more than one item at breakfast or more than two items at lunch.”  This means if children begin to skip over milk because all that is offered is the un-flavored version funding could be in danger, especially since flavored milks are often one of the most popular items in the lunch line.  Larry Purdom, chairman of the Missouri Dairy Association broke both the funding and nutritional debate down to a simple thought for the Southeast Missourian, “Kids are not going to drink milk if it doesn’t taste good.  We think it’s better for them to drink something maybe with a little more sugar in it than drinking nothing, and then they go home and drink soda pop instead.”

The Results

As of now with the politics of federal funding for lunch programs and a lack of concrete research it seems that the debate most often comes down to a push between both sides.  However, there have been some compromises.  Another article from ABC News shares that some schools are currently looking to replace the existing high sugar options with a version that tastes similar, but utilizes sugars made from sucrose or beets which are somewhat healthier and easier for the body to process.   Still in other schools, protesters have won out and the ban is on, at least temporarily.  Most recently, the L.A. Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest school system, has decided to do away with flavored milk beginning with the coming fall semester.  However, while this may be a temporary win for protestor, the flavored milk supporters may win in the end.  The LA Times reports that the district has requested that a no-sugar added version of the flavored milk be formulated and if/when this happens the drink will be back.

Please leave us a comment below to tell us where you/your school stand on the flavored milk ban.  If you participate in the ban, how has it affected the school both from a financial and nutritional standpoint? 

Central Restaurant Products Launches School Nutrition Equipment Guide in Support of First Lady’s Childhood Obesity Plan

School Nutrition Equipment

Central's School Nutrition Equipment Guide Catalog

Central Restaurant Products will launch its first School Nutrition Equipment Guide campaign in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative against childhood obesity.  Central’s campaign, which includes a print catalog and an online information area, is aimed at providing the latest products to help improve workflow, promote food safety techniques and encourage healthy food preparation methods in public and private K-12 school districts, colleges and universities.

The School Nutrition Equipment Guide Catalog will be available beginning Monday, March 29, 2010.  The Catalog contains more than 3,000 commercial foodservice products that are useful in any school foodservice application, as well as a simplified buying guide to some of the top-requested products.

In addition to the School Nutrition Equipment Guide Catalog, Central will launch a new area for school foodservice and nutrition information on their website.  This new school foodservice area will allow shoppers to browse through a selection of equipment and supplies that are recommended for usage in school kitchens, cafeterias, food courts student unions and teachers’ lounges.

Whether shopping by catalog or online, Central’s Product Consultants offer free expert solutions for any school foodservice application.  Services include facility workflow advice complete with CAD drawings, assistance with state/federal grant applications and customized product recommendations based upon need, budget and current trends, such as the Let’s Move initiative led by Michelle Obama.

The goal of Let’s Move is to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation, making it more important than ever for schools to put major focus on healthy foods and cooking methods.  Central’s School Nutrition Equipment Guides offer the equipment and supplies necessary to perform the following healthy cooking methods promoted by the Let’s Move initiative:  baking, braising, poaching, roasting, steaming, stir-frying and grilling/broiling.

One of the most popular of these healthy cooking methods is steaming foods in a countertop steamer or combi oven.  Foods are cooked by the heat of the steam (created by a simmering liquid at the bottom of the cooking chamber), which helps to maintain the color, texture and nutritional value of the food.  Since foods are not cooked by direct contact to the heating surface, the need for adding extra fats or oils to the food prior to cooking is eliminated.

To obtain a School Nutrition Equipment Guide Catalog, you may call 888-893-9998 or submit a request online for your free copy.  You may also visit the School Nutrition Equipment Guide online at www.centralrestaurant.com/schoolsolutions.html.