Tag Archives: Food Pyramid

The Latest on School Nutrition: New USDA Standards

Last August the School Nutrition Association released their “The State of School Nutrition 2011,” which found many school nutritionists and foodservice workers eager to provide healthier menu items at their schools.

Image: Jeltovski/MorgueFile

Unfortunately, many schools cited monetary reasons as to why they were unable to enhance menus.  Other schools just hadn’t made the switch yet.

There’s been a huge emphasis on school nutrition and health since Michelle Obama stepped into her role as first lady.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was signed in December 2010, the food pyramid was revamped into MyPlate and Mrs. Obama initiated the Let’s Move! campaign, which aims to create a healthier generation of children.

So while some things have just been encouraged or implemented as guides, come July 1, schools will have to start making changes based on the USDA’s new standards.

The new standards were announced on Jan. 25 and stem from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.  Per the USDA’s website, the new rules are to:

  • Offer fruits and vegetables to students daily

    Image: margey6652/Morguefile

  • Increase offering of whole grain-rich foods
  • Provide only fat-free or low-fat milk
  • Limit calories based on age so students receive their appropriate portion size
  • Reduce amounts of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium

Schools must begin making changes at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, but will have three year period to implement all revisions.

While some critics say more can be done for school nutrition, many are pleased, including Sarah Wu, former anonymous blogger for her blog Fed Up with Lunch (also known as Mrs. Q, read our October interview with her here).

“I think it’s really great, actually,” she said. “I’m pretty pleased with them and it’s definitely a good step in the right direction.  There’s more we can do, but I’m totally happy.”

Image: Fed Up with Lunch

One of Wu’s biggest concerns goes back to the reason why many schools hadn’t made the move to healthier items in the first place: money.

“I think I’m concerned about how districts will make it work with the money they have,” she said.

According to the USDA, the price of school menus will increase by six cents—which is the first big increase in the last 30 years.

To compensate, the USDA will increase funding to cover the six cents.  However, Wu pointed out despite the increased funding, she mentioned it’s been said the cost for the new standards may actually be 11 cents per meal.  If that is the end result, the five cent difference could be challenging for schools.

“There are ways instead of having to absorb those losses,” Wu said, and wonders if schools could get in touch with local non-profits, foundations, have fundraisers, etc.

“There have to be ways people can engage and help.”

Image: imelenchon/MorgueFile

So cost aside, Wu and many others are pleased with these new standards.

In the USDA’s press release, they also had other improvements they would like to make such as to have nutritional standards apply to all ways students get food and beverage (i.e. vending), have “common-sense pricing standards for schools” and provide training and technical assistance to help schools comply with the new standards.

To view more information about the new guidelines, including links to sample menus and more, visit the USDA’s website.

How do you feel about the USDA’s new standards? Schools, how will this impact you directly?

 

Central’s Week in Brief: May 27, 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!

Image from ChooseMyPlate.gov

Image from ChooseMyPlate.gov

1) Beginning June 2, 2011 the Food Pyramid will be replaced.  The new icon will represent a change from a basic guideline of what and how much to eat to a more balanced program that teaches what steps to take to lead a healthier lifestyle.  Robert C. Post, PhD, deputy director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion told WebMD, “There will be a ‘how-to’ that will resonate with individuals. That is the behavioral part that is needed. We need to transcend information — ‘here’s what the science says’ — and give people the tools and the opportunities to take action.”

2) The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile has been motoring around the country for 75 years now.  Since then there have been many upgrades and for this year’s big anniversary the Wienermobile’s latest improvement was a no-brainer: turn it into a food truck.  The newest Wienermobile was unveiled in New York City with Chef Tyler Florence handing out hot dogs, but you can also get in on the action as the new food truck hits the road for a 12 city tour this summer.

3) Many chefs that make a living preparing pork are rejoicing this week, while others may be a little slow to come around to a new pork cooking guideline by the USDA.  Pork now must only reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit versus the previously required 160 degrees.  This change comes as a result of improved hog feeding processes which have decreased (but not eliminated) the risk for trichinosis, a disease caused by eating undercooked meat.

4)  On a sadder (to some) note, this week media icon Oprah Winfrey said good-bye to her talk-show audience for the final time after 25 years on the air.  It’s hard to think of a world without Oprah, but never fear you can always enjoy some of Ms. Winfrey’s favorite foods (from her Favorite Things lists) to help you carry on now that her show is no more.  Here’s a list of just a few favorites: Beecher’s Mac & Cheese, Ciao Bella Blood Orange Sorbetto, Greenberg Smoked Turkey, Garrett Popcorn’s CarmelCrisp® and CheeseCorn™, Centerville Pie’s Oprah Chicken Pie and Moveable Feast Brownies.

5) And since it’s the 3 day Memorial Day weekend that means it’s a perfect time to break out the grill and get cooking.  But why just make your average run of the mill burgers and hot dogs, why not spice things up a little?   Try this recipe for Devil’s Meatloaf on the Grill from AllRecipes.com, remember to keep an eye on the grill and keep the kids away and if all else fails check out Alton Brown’s must-have for grilling.