photo courtesy of morguefile.com
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.
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:
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.”
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.”
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?
When it comes to important kitchen equipment, the slicer ranks pretty high on the list. From salad bar to pizza toppings, the slicer really takes on a lot when it comes to back of the house duties. By having a slicer at your restaurant, it can extremely reduce labor costs while providing uniform results.
One of the great slicers out there is the Nemco Easy Slicer. (And just to give you a heads up, we currently have a promotion running until the end of October. With every purchase of a Nemco Easy Slicer comes a free replacement blade kit.)
The Nemco Easy Slicer has twin, razor sharp 51/2” curved stainless steel blades, an exclusive visual thickness gauge and comes in your choice of an adjustable (1/16” to 1/2”) or fixed blade set (1/8”, 3/16” or 1/4”).
The slicer easily takes on onions, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and more. And best of all, it cuts uniform slices in seconds, so you and your customers can count on consistency.
What sets this slicer aside from others is the fact that anyone can use it. According to OSHA regulations, no one under the age of 18 can use a power slicer. As this slicer isn’t a powered prep item, it is great for restaurants that employ high school students. Also, minimal training is required making it easy to use.
There are always tough aspects to owning restaurant equipment and cleaning is one of the tougher tasks for slicers. Nemco was sure to keep that in mind when they built the Easy Slicer and specifically designed it to disassemble easily. This makes the cleaning process much, much easier.
So when it comes down to some of the perks, here’s what you can count on with Nemco’s Easy Slicer:
Nemco has put together this information-packed video (click here) which goes into further detail and provides tutorials for slicing, cleaning and more. And if you’re thinking about purchasing this slicer, you can click here for the information on Central’s website.
One of the most important yet undervalued components of the dining experience is the table. At this point, you know table setting basics from silverware placement to having the classic white linen neatly draped over. But from restaurants to catered events, there is always a way to take it a step further to enhance your customer’s experience. After all, taking some extra time to liven up the setting could bring in more money somewhere along the line.
This week we came up with a few ideas along with Michael Williams (Product Consultant, Central Restaurant Products), Laura Bedilion (Category Manager, Central Restaurant Products) and Stacy Blanton (Director of Marketing and Communications, IUPUI Food Service) to create 10 ways to make your table setting go above and beyond your guest’s expectations.
Let us know ways you have changed your table setting to enhance the experience for your guests in our comment section!
What could be better than a battle royal of your favorite sweets? Not much. However, could one tasty treat truly push the other out of the lime light and into oblivion (as some writers around the web might hope)? Probably not too likely.
You may then be asking, “Why do so many people care about cupcakes and pies?!” With articles popping up everywhere from blogs to the Wall Street Journal , the answer is that everyone has their opinion on what is best. And unlike many other trendy food items, cupcakes and pie are commonplace in most people’s everyday lives (especially in childhood).
There are also businesses involved in the confectionary clash. Shops and companies dedicated to selling baked goods have become huge money-makers in recent years due to such a great demand and a usually low start-up cost. We spoke to the experts, Michael D. Wickersham of Wick’s Pies, Inc. and Courtney Gorman of Sweet Lucinda’s , to get their thoughts on what makes theirs the best goodie in this melee.
Wickersham “was born in the Pie business.” His father started the now famous Wick’s Pies in Winchester, Indiana, from the restaurants he owned and operated. He started making pies because he couldn’t find one he felt was good enough for his customers. The business started with 20 pies a day and is now up to about 10,000 per day.
Gorman’s baking also grew from her roots. She says, “Most of my recipes originate from my mom (Sweet Lucinda) or grandmother.” Gorman adds, “When I was a very little girl my mom would bake for us all the time…my birthday parties were the best!” These birthday delicacies and comforting memories like it are what inspired her to start her own bakery.
Wickersham’s biggest line of defense for the pie is their health benefits. “Many pies are made with fresh fruit. Some pies are made with vegetables, some with milk, some with chocolate, and some with nuts. Pies offer protein, dairy, fruit, vegetables, grains. Come to think of it a slice of pie looks like a pyramid and could be used as a dietary pyramid,” he said. He goes on to add that while cupcakes may be trendy, “Pie is America’s Dessert.”
Gorman feels that cupcakes are big because, “They are individual, personal cakes that make everyone feel special. They are great for events and parties because they require no work…people can grab and go. You can get a smattering of flavors instead of just one in a cake.” She continues saying, “And sweets seem to be a treat that people are willing to still invest in.”
So which one is best? Do trends beat out classics? Is it better to share or have it all to yourself? There’s no better way to decide then to put the two rivals head to head.
2. http://www.slate.com/id/2227216/ 3.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703960804576120453548957890.html 4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._state_foods
So, who is the real winner? It could be both. More accurately, it could be a combination of the two. Gorman has actually brought the best of both worlds together at Sweet Lucinda’s with a pie cupcake.
But really if you want to know if it’s one or the other, only you can decide. And what’s the best way to make a food related decision? Taste test them both at home!
Try this recipe for a Chocolate Carmel Cream Pie and cut it perfectly with this pie cutter from Central or this one for the Ultimate Jumbo Filled Chocolate Cupcakes using a jumbo cupcake pan from Central.
**Pie Trivia – According to Wickersham, The Bean Pie (made of navy beans) was the Boxing Champ, Muhammad Ali’s favorite pie.
**Cupcake Trivia – Although often thought of as a trend, the first mention of cupcakes was actually in 1796 in “American Cookery” by Amelia Simms.