Tag Archives: michelle obama

Foodservice Industry Week in Brief: 2/10

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Here are five stories from the foodservice industry for February 6-10.

Image: penywise/MorgueFile

Restaurants are Following in QSR’s Lead
From Chron.com, Read News Release

In a recent news release from The NDP Group, when it comes to the restaurant industry, they discovered fast casual or QSRs (quick service restaurants) are in the lead.  According to their study, QSRs have been the only segment to show growth in the nation’s current economic situation.  Because of their success, restaurants are now following suit to increase sales.  Read the full news release on Chron’s website.

McDonald’s Shamrock Shake to be Available in All U.S. Locations
From Washington Post, Read Article

Each year there are many restaurants with signature limited time offers–one of the most popular being McDonald’s Shamrock Shake.  This year McDonald’s has stepped it up and has made the shake available in all of their locations across the country.  According to the Washington Post article, the decision to put the shake in all stores was made by customer feedback.  Read the full story on the Washington Post website.

Image: click/MorgueFile

Happy Birthday, Let’s Move!
From CBS News, Read Article

First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign entered into its second year of combating childhood obesity on February 9.  And what greater birthday present to get than to hear this quote from Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack: “For the first time in a long time, we did not see a rise in obesity rates.” The CBS article points out some of Let’s Move!’s many accomplishments such as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and the revision of the food pyramid to MyPlate.  Vilsack also told CBS about their 2012 goals which include increasing the number of schools involved and to help children learn better eating habits for their every day lives.  Read full article on the CBS website.

National Restaurant Association Boosts Restaurant Involvement for “Kids LiveWell” Initiative
From NRA, Read Press Release

On the same day as the second anniversary of the Let’s Move! campaign, NRA announced the amount of restaurants participating in their “Kids LiveWell” initiative has tripled since it first began in July 2011.  The initiative was put in place to give parents better and healthier menu options for their children at restaurants.  According to NRA, restaurants can become a part of the initiative by meeting specific qualifications based on “leading health organizations’ scientific recommendations.”  Read full news release on the NRA website.

Image: kakisky/MorgueFile

Valentine’s Day at Restaurants

As Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, restaurants are gearing up for the event with special menu items and promotions.  Here are a few we found:

Need an idea for a promotion at your restaurant? Check out this article, “10 Valentine’s Day Promotions For Your Restaurant,” by Amanda MacArthur, Managing Editor for Swipely.

To keep the conversation going, let us know what your foodservice establishment’s plans are for Valentine’s Day! Special menu? Unique setting?

Comment on Facebook or let us know on Twitter and use #CRPvalentine.

 

 

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?

 

Foodservice Industry Week in Brief: December 16

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Here are five stories from the foodservice industry for the week of December 12 through December 16. 

Let’s Move! Breaks Jumping Jacks World Record
From Let’s Move Blog, Read Full Story

Back in October, we reported about Let’s Move attempting to break the world record of the most people doing jumping jacks in a 24-hour period.  The record they had to beat was 20,000.  This week, First Lady Michelle Obama took to the Let’s Move blog to announce the good news–not only did they break the record, but by a large number!  The grand total was 300,265.  To read the full story, including a video from Mrs. Obama, visit the Let’s Move! Blog.

More Gluten-Free and Heart-Healthy Meals
From NY Daily News, Read Full Story

Image by Ariadna on MorgueFile.com

This year there’s been more awareness to food allergies and also to healthier menu items.  The NY Daily News reported there has been a 61 percent increase in gluten free menu items.  What’s more interesting is not all of the customers requested gluten-free menu items because of a medical condition.  Then also, according to the article, 73 percent of customers wanted to know menu nutritional content.  Read the full story on the NY Daily News site and take their poll regarding gluten-free menu items.

People Choose Restaurant Gift Cards
From Nation’s Restaurant News, Read Full Story

In a recent National Restaurant Association study,they reported approximately one of every five people will give the gift of a restaurant gift card this year.  Towards the end of 2011, we’ve read there will be an increase in restaurant sales–and this article’s estimate that people will on average spend $155.43 on gift cards will certainly help! Read the full story on the Nation’s Restaurant News site including more interesting survey results.

Image by Ronnie Bergeron on MorgueFile.com

Food Trends for 2012
From Huff Post Food, Read Full Story

Last year Central put together a list of foodservice trends for 2011.  Well more and more websites are posting their different trends for 2012, including this one from Huff Post Food, which takes a close look at specific food trends.  Some on the list include fast casual Asian, french dips, pretzels and more food trucks.  For a slide show on all trends, including pictures and explanations, visit Huff Post Food.

FoodBuzz’s “Today’s Top 9”
From FoodBuzz, Read Full Story

On the FoodBuzz website, they put together a list of the top nine recipes for the day, which were submitted to the site from website contributors.  Menu items include candy cane marshmallow pops, sweet potato pie oatmeal and mint cookies ‘n cream.  Take a look at all nine items including pictures and recipes on the FoodBuzz website.      

 


fast food, image from morguefile

Central’s Week in Brief: October 21, 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)      Have you ever taken a trip to McDonald’s and felt like the only thing missing was a TV?  If so, then your fast food experience will soon be complete with the premiere of an in-store McDonald’s television channel.  The channel’s programming will be community specific and include everything from local news to movie previews and about eight minutes per hour of advertising as well.   According to the L.A. Times, “The venture, which has already been tested in L.A., San Diego and Las Vegas, is expected to reach 18 million to 20 million people a month, which ChannelPort executives said would be one of the largest daytime audiences in the region.”

 

2)      In what may seem like a setback for First Lady Michelle Obama and her Let’s Move campaign, the U.S. Senate has voted against an effort to limit potatoes in school lunches.   This limitation of potatoes and other starchy vegetables to a maximum of two servings per week was part of an effort to combat childhood obesity and promote serving healthier vegetables.   Time Healthland says the ban “…angered the potato industry, some school districts and members of Congress from potato-growing states, who say USDA should focus on the preparation instead and that potatoes can be a good source of fiber and potassium.”  In the end, it was judged as more important to find a balance in what is served and how it is prepared rather than putting a limit on servings.

 

3)      In the nation’s current economy, Detroit has suffered more than most.  One big example of this hardship is the budget cuts for 43 of the city’s soup kitchens and food banks.  While many might feel that they could do nothing, 65 popular restaurants and caterers have decided to step up to help those in their community by participating in the “Feed the Need” program.  By taking part in the program, restaurants will prepare and cater lunch once a week for those in need at Detroit’s Cass Community Center. The Detroit News says, “More than 12,000 meals are expected to be served annually.”  The program, originally started in South Carolina by Detroit native Mickey Bakst, is expected to expand to six other cities in the near future.

 

4)      Starbucks announced that it will be introducing a light roast (aka less strong) version of their coffee called the “Blonde” roast.   While Starbucks is traditionally known for their dark roasts, according to Nation’s Restaurant News, they are aiming “to attract the estimated 40 percent of American coffee drinkers who say they prefer a lighter roast flavor.”  This change is also an effort to compete with lighter coffee roasts from outlets like McDonald’s which has become a bigger player in the coffee market in the past few years with the introduction of their McCafe line.

 

 

5)      Halloween season is upon us and while this holiday is traditionally associated with candy there’s nothing wrong with switching it up a little.  If you’re throwing a special party at your school or restaurant or just looking to serve up a creative new dessert check out these Chocolate Spider Web Cake in a Jars from the I Am Baker blog.   Not only are they festive and a little creepy, but they’re also a great, simple way to personalize a treat for each guest.

vegetables, Image from Morguefile

Nutrition Education: Another Key to Healthy School Lunches

For years, Americans have been hearing about the rising rate of obesity in the country.   Books and movies like Fast Food Nation (2001) and Super Size Me (2004) have warned against the harm of eating an unhealthy diet based mostly in convenience foods.   But even with all of this cautioning, only when First Lady Michelle Obama’s introduced the Let’s Move initiative in February of 2010 did the message really begin to make an impact on both parents and schools.   Due to this new take on feeding children a more nutritious diet, many cafeterias have begun providing healthier options for students with a large focus on following the newly introduced MyPlate nutrition guide.  While this turn for the wholesome in the lunch room has been a step in the right direction, it seems to be apparent that there is still something missing in the equation as much of the healthier choices are being wasted or overlooked.  So what is the key to getting children to eat their vegetables?  While parents have been wondering this for years, recently teachers, cafeteria workers and even chefs have begun discovering what might just be the key to solving the mystery.

One huge push coming from everyone from Mrs. Obama to Chef Jamie Oliver is that of educating children on what they eat while involving them in the process of how it comes to be.   A big reason for the average child’s aversion to eating healthier items could be that they simply don’t know what it is.  Chef Oliver found out the hard way that currently children aren’t getting the food education that they need as a base to grow as health eaters.

The answer to this problem could be as simple teaching students about the different foods available.  In today’s society with schools being required to tighten budgets and raise scores on standardized tests, many nutrition programs have disappeared.   However, several institutions aren’t giving up and instead have found new ways to both educate and involve their students while incorporating nutrition in the daily curriculum.

file00067364915In an article from Natural Vitality Kids, one example of food and education was discovered at Abernethy Elementary School in Portland, Oregon.  The school has a garden classroom and a “harvest of the month program” that allows students to get first-hand experience on various levels with a particular crop each month.  While a local farm provides the crop to serve in the cafeterias, the students also grow it in the school’s garden and learn about it in the classroom.

The nutrition education program has been taken a step further at the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School in New York.   At this school for 6th through 12th graders, they recently took on the topic of food, because as Principal Damon McCord told Serious Eats, “Food is a great lens through which to look at history, nutrition and science.”  For six-weeks, students learned about nutrition by doing things like studying crops around the world in Social Studies, learning about the growing process and diseases caused by food in Science, reading and writing about industrial meat production in English and even starting their own community garden.   The school’s goal is for students to learn about topics covered in standardized testing while at the same time providing them with nutritional information that can be carried on with them into the real world.

A final move for educating students about nutrition is the national movement Chefs Move to School (part of the Let’s Move! Campaign), run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.   This program helps schools partner with local chefs to help their schools meet dietary guidelines and budgets and at the same time educate students on nutrition and healthy choices.  According to My West Hartford Life, three charter schools in West Hartford, Connecticut are currently testing this program out with a fair amount of success among students.   In this case, while students are already currently learning about food as part of their curriculum, it seems the cafeteria staff is receiving more of an educational benefit from the program.  Local chef Hunter Morgan has come in to teach cafeteria staff members how to make meals that are healthy in all aspects, like spinach lasagna and broccoli, in order to provide them with the skills and recipes it will take to keep the healthy food coming once he goes back to his usual job as executive chef of local restaurant Max Downtown.

While not every school has the money and resources to do a complete overhaul like many of these schools have, there are still plenty of ways to help bring nutrition education in at some level.  Check out low-cost educational programs like Veggiecation or research grants and resources at The Lunch Box for more information on improving or building a program at your school.

What does your school do to educate about food and nutrition?  Please share your comments below. 

Central’s Week in Brief: October 14, 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.With the NBA commissioner cancelling the first two weeks of the basketball season due to the lockout, it’s not just the owners and teams feeling the effects.  Restaurants all over the country are struggling with the current situation and fear what could happen if the lockout doesn’t end soon.  For example, in Indianapolis, Mayor Greg Ballard told WTHR between 10,000 and 15,000 people visit the downtown area 50 times per year for basketball.  One pub owner told them he’s already lost six employees.  Hopefully the lockout will end soon and the hospitality industry can get back to business as usual.

2. As a part of her Let’s Move! campaign, First Lady Michell Obama teamed up with  National Geographic Kids for the Let’s Jump! event.  The October 11 event kicked off an attempt to break a Guinness World Record®.  What record? The most people doing jumping jacks in a 24 hour period.  She started Let’s Jump! on the White House’s south lawn, along with 400 local children.  The goal was to exceed over 20,000 people from all over the world and those who participated had to record and document their jumping jacks then send it in for review.  It’s still unknown whether or not the record was broken, but we’ll be sure to share the information as it becomes available!

3. The holiday season is just around the corner, which means restaurants are gearing up for sales.  In this NRN article, they said the National Retail Foundation “projected that retail industry sales for the months of November and December will increase 2.8 percent.” While that is an increase, it doesn’t quite match up to last year’s 5.2 percent increase. However, as they mentioned in the article, improvement is improvement and some restaurants are already pushing out their LTOs (limited time offers) to be in the minds of consumers.

4. San Antonio’s J. Anthony’s Seafood Cafe had quite the interesting experience this week when they were robbed by three women, one of which whom got stuck in the drive-thru window while attempting to make her escape.  The incident happened around 1 a.m. on October 12.  The other two women have not yet been found.  Read more about this story at the KENS5 news website.

5. Sometimes restaurants create some real head-scratching policies.  Zagat picked out 10 of the most controversial restaurant policies then took a look at both the pros and cons in this article. Take a look at these 10 and let us know which ones you stand by and which ones you don’t!

School’s Back in Session! Top Five Resources for Your School Cafeteria

It’s August and many students are headed back to the classroom which means they’re heading back to your cafeteria. Now, more than ever, schools across the country are re-evaluating menus and updating standards to make students healthier and to promote food safety. Here are five great resources to get your cafeteria on the right track, or to help you improve current procedures.

Image from Let’s Move! website

Let’s Move!

What it’s about: First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative to help raise a healthier generation of children.

How it can help your school: They provide guidance for everyone in the school from the principal to foodservice staff. Let’s Move! has brought on changes and updated standards to the National School Lunch and National School Breakfast programs and have also launched other initiatives such as Chefs Move to Schools and HealthierUS School Challenge

Important links:

Let’s Move! Healthy Schools

Chefs Move to Schools

The HealthierUS School Challenge

Five Simple Steps to Success

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Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN)

What it’s about: FAAN is a credible and trusted source of information, programs and resources for food allergies and anaphylaxis. Their mission is “to raise public awareness, to provide advocacy and education, and to advance research on behalf of those affected by food allergies and anaphylaxis.”

How it can help your school: They assist schools in food allergy training and protocol.  They also provide detailed information about the different types of food allergies.

Important links:

Safe at School Resources for Schools, Camps and Child Care Centers

Education for School Professionals

School Guidelines for Managing Students with Food Allergies

Food Allergy Action Plan

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National Coalition for Food-Safe Schools (NCFSS)

What it’s about: They improve food safety in America’s schools.

How it can help your school: NCFSS provides information specifically for foodservice staff on safely handling food.

Important links:

Food Safety for Foodservice Professionals

Action Guide—Materials for Each Team Member

Responding to a Food Recall

Food Safety Checklist (Word)

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School Nutrition Association (SNA)

What it’s about: SNA provides high-quality, low-cost meals to students and have been “advancing the availability, quality and acceptance of school nutrition programs as an integral part of education since 1946.”

How it can help your school: For one, if you aren’t already a member, you may want to consider becoming one (click here for information).  SNA has some information available to the public on their website, but membership includes extensive education and training.  SNA sets standards through certification and credentials, gathers and shares several kinds of important school nutrition news, legislation, etc., and represents the nutritional interests of all children.

Important links:

Resource Center

Preparing School Meals

Menu Planning

Teaching Kids About Nutrition

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Other Initiatives

What it’s about: The government and other programs have updated standards and have released new information about nutrition in schools.

How it can help your school: These resources will keep your cafeteria current with the latest initiatives and standards and/or will give you ideas for improvement.

Important links:

MyPlate

Cafeteria Composting Plan

World Health Organization (WHO) Global School Health Initiative

USDA School Meals