In late January of 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama and Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsak introduced new standards for school meals. These new guidelines will be implemented in phases all the way out to the 2022-2023 school year, with the first phase beginning on July 1 for the 2012-2013 school year.
Introduction and Links to Bookmark
With schools needing to implement changes on July 1, Central is ready to help in any way possible. Below is an overview of the new guidelines and list of products that can help with new portion requirements. Don’t hesitate to call one of our Product Consultants at 800-215-9293 with any questions on your school foodservice needs.
Below is a recap of the new guidelines that are to be implemented on July 1. See a complete overview slideshow in full detail, including upcoming school years, on the USDA website.
To make it easier to find information, each new requirement below includes the corresponding slides. Other important items to bookmark are:
The USDA has provided a Lunch Meal Pattern for all food items (slide 9). Below find details on each requirement for the July 1, 2012 implementation with links and slide page numbers to refer to for all information.
More lunch requirements are going into effect on July 1 on menu planning, age-grade groups, offer vs. serve and monitoring. Review the USDA’s Implementation Timeline for details.
The USDA has provided a Breakfast Meal Pattern for all food items (slide 25). Below find details on each requirement for the July 1, 2012 implementation with links and slide page numbers to refer to for all information.
Need new equipment? Below are suggestions by Product Consultant Dan Merriman. Again, don’t hesitate to contact a Central Product Consultant at 800-215-9293 with help on the new guidelines and purchasing equipment.
The Dollar Menu and Happy Meals, both staples to McDonald’s menu, will undergo some changes. The Huffington Post highlighted what will be different with the Dollar Menu–which will replace the small beverage and fries with baked cookies and ice cream cones. A new “Extra Value” menu will roll-out and will feature items such as double cheeseburgers, snack wraps, chicken nuggets, etc. between $1-$2. NRN followed up on the improved Happy Meal and spoke with McDonald’s Chief Marketing Officer, Niel Golden about advertising. Golden said all marketing to children will all have messages to encourage an active and healthy lifestyle. The new Happy Meal will include smaller portions of chicken nuggets and french fries along with apple slices and fat-free milk. Read full articles from the Huffington Post and NRN.
Panda Express to Test New 3-Entree, Eco-Friendly Container From National Restaurant Association, Read Article
Normally when customers visit the Chinese restaurant Panda Express, they’re used to ordering a la cart, the one-entree Panda Bowl or a two-entree plate with an entree and side item of their choice. A recent Nation’s Restaurant News’ article discussed something new for Panda Express, a test of a container called the “Paw Plate.” It has three compartments for the entrees and one area for the side dish. NRN said this new container is more environmentally friendly and is also recyclable, microwaveable and dishwasher safe. Read the full story and see a picture of the new “Paw Plate” on the NRN website.
Awhile back we learned how many airport foodservices were revamping their menus and providing more gourmet items. Now, many airport foodservices are taking it a step further and are providing more local items to showcase what a particular city has to offer. QSR covered the topic and discussed how previously there was a focus on national brands but now local will be playing a role too. Read full article on QSR website.
One of the Most Talked About School Topics This Week….. “Pink Slime” From MSNBC, Read Article and ABC News, Read Article
It seems as though the topic of “Pink Slime” meat being served in schools couldn’t be avoided this week as it’s been all over Facebook, Twitter, blogs and the news. What is “pink slime?” According to an MSNBC article, “pink slime is bits of meat and muscle salvaged from slaughterhouse floors that are treated with a pink chemical to kill any dangerous pathogens.” Restaurants such as McDonald’s will no longer serve this type of meet to customers, yet it’s still being served in schools. Also, ABC News spoke with a former USDA scientist that said 70 percent of ground beef at supermarkets consists of “pink slime” as well. Read full articles on the MSNBC website and on ABC News.
Facebook Timeline for Brands by March 30
If your restaurant or foodservice has a fan page on Facebook, come March 30, it will change to the new Facebook Timeline. Yes, change is scary, but the new Timeline really offers a ton of great features and advantages.
You will be able to showcase your establishment with the large photo cover, brief “about us” statement, different page apps (formally were the “tabs” you could have on the left such as maps, photos, etc.), pinned posts to make important messages appear first and the ability to add milestone events. The new Facebook Timeline can really help you humanize your business and really show it off. There are several other new features to be taken advantage of, here are a few links that you will find helpful in making the switch. Remember, you have until March 30!
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.
A few years back, public school speech pathologist Sarah Wu forgot to pack her lunch and decided to grab a meal in her school’s cafeteria along with the students. After seeing the “nutritious” meal that was being served to children every day, Wu was inspired to challenge herself to get involved and get the word out to others, especially parents that may not realize the lack of healthy foods their sons or daughters were being fed each day. In order to do this Wu ate school lunch every day in 2010 while anonymously blogging, tweeting and sharing photos of the meals under the pseudonym Mrs. Q.
Mrs. Q’s Fed up with Lunch blog caused quite a stir and while Wu did continually fear that at any time she could be ousted and possibly lose her job, she continued to share her thoughts on the state of school food. This persistence has paid off with national recognition of her efforts on outlets like Good Morning America and National Public Radio. This public acknowledgment went a step further on Wednesday, October 05, 2011 when Wu relinquished her anonymity as Mrs. Q in order to release a book about her experience called “Fed up with Lunch: How One Anonymous Teacher Revealed the Truth about School Lunches – And How We Can Change Them”.
And while Wu is now busier than ever, she will continue to blog, as she has since the challenge ended, about school lunch reform and to share the eating habits of her own family and her decision to eliminate gluten from her own diet. Because of this dedication to a healthier, more balanced diet, as well as her first hand knowledge of food allergies, we asked Wu to share with us her experience with dietary issues and how similar eating habits could play a part in school meals.
Central Restaurant Products: What was your diet like before the lunch project and looking back how did it affect your health?
Sarah Wu: I always thought of my diet as healthy. I made sure we ate balanced meals and planned dinner with a meat, a grain, and a veggie. But I wasn’t focused on ingredients or organics like I do now. We never ate fast food on a regular basis, but we did eat out quite a bit. My health was ok, but I have been suffering with IBS for almost ten years.
CRP: Without the school lunch project, do you think you would have looked into going gluten free? Why or why not?
SW: As I discuss very briefly in the book, I went gluten free for a couple of weeks about four years ago. In the book, I said that my brief voyage into gluten free living was because of my IBS. It was also because I was having difficulty getting pregnant and I was reading fertility books obsessively. One book mentioned going gluten free and drinking whole milk. I was desperate to get pregnant so I tried their recommendations. I felt really good (and I ended up getting pregnant that month) and did a little research online and found “Celiac disease.” Because my IBS was better, I thought I must have Celiac disease so I went to a GI doctor (gastroenterologist) for a test. The blood test was negative and the doctor told me, “You do not have a problem with wheat so go ahead and resume a normal diet.” Although I was relieved that I didn’t have an autoimmune disorder like Celiac, I was stumped because I felt oddly better without wheat. Since I trusted the doctor, I started eating wheat again.
I never would have questioned the doctor’s recommendations again because the test results were clear. Additionally my father is a doctor and we believe in medical science and technology.
It just so happened that when I was appearing anonymously on a food blogging conference in San Francisco in October 2010, I started talking to Alison St. Sure, who is a food blogger who has Celiac disease. We just started chatting and she mentioned her diagnosis. I told her something like, “That’s funny, a few years ago I thought I had Celiac disease, but my test was negative.” She said something then that changed my life, “You know just because you don’t have Celiac disease doesn’t mean you don’t have a problem with wheat. What the doctor should have said was that you could be gluten sensitive.” I was stunned. I decided that night that when the project was over I would try gluten free living again. CRP: What sources did you use to go gluten free?
CRP: What advice would you give to someone thinking about going gluten free?
SW: It’s important that someone who thinks that they have Celiac disease gets tested prior to going gluten free. If you are gluten free prior to the test, your body will stop producing the antibodies to wheat and those are what reveal a problem. Get tested and then try the diet. Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease whose rates are doubling every 15 years. It is very troubling. Research the symptoms. Even if you don’t have Celiac disease, you may find a benefit to gluten free living like I had. I feel amazing and I’ll never go back.
Image from FedUpWithLunch.com
CRP: What benefits are there to going gluten free? What are the drawbacks?
SW: For someone like me, the benefits are incredible. My IBS is totally gone. I also have more energy. Many people who say they go gluten free mention having more energy. For me I think that having chronic digestive troubles drained my energy. Now my body can focus on other things, which makes me feel physically stronger.
The drawback is eating out. It can be hard to find a restaurant that understands what gluten can do to people like me. But I have found lots of restaurants, including major chains, have gluten free menus. All you have to do is ask.
CRP: How have you had to change your shopping routine since going gluten free?
SW: Now I read all labels. I’m aware of ingredients more than ever. Also we are eating more whole foods (fruits, veggies, meats) and those are naturally gluten free.
CRP: Are there any food item substitutes that just don’t measure up to the original? Any items you or your family miss having?
SW: I think it’s hard to find a perfect match for pasta that doesn’t contain gluten. I have been able to find equivalents to most things. It just takes time. When I feel bad it’s usually when we go out to dinner and we get a bread basket on the table. My son is able to wait for his food, but I just feel bad he has to miss out at certain restaurants.
CRP: What products have been easiest to switch from?
SW: Finding gluten free cereal and oatmeal is not hard. I think breakfast is pretty easy to make gluten free because eggs, bacon and OJ are gluten free (check individual brands).
CRP: What foods do you find yourself eating more often due to your change in diet?
SW: I think that my overall awareness of food has made me eat more fruits and veggies than before. I still eat too many cookies — some things never change!
CRP: How difficult do you think it would be for a school (yours or your son’s daycare for example) to go gluten free? What specific roadblocks do you see them running into? If money and administrative restraints were no issue, would you recommend schools going this route?
SW: I think it would be hard to meet the USDA requirements (each school lunch averages about two servings of grain) and not incorporate wheat. But if you look at school lunch, they are serving a ton of wheat –what happened to other grains? Rice? Corn? Quinoa? Spelt? Barley? Rye? I believe everything in moderation and people are consuming more wheat than ever before. Oddly, rates of Celiac disease have been doubling every 15 years. That might be a sign that people should each a more diverse diet.
If money and administrative costs were not a concern, I would advise schools to back off the overabundance of wheat. A varied diet is more wholesome.
CRP: How do you believe students would benefit from going gluten free?
SW: Well, 97% of people with Celiac disease have not been diagnosed. One in 133 people are living with Celiac disease and most of them don’t know it. This can lead to living with another chronic disease as people with undiagnosed Celiac disease are at risk of developing other ailments including cancer. I consider this to be an epidemic. So I think that if more students ate a varied diet, they might be able to notice a correlation between how they feel after they eat a gluten free meal versus a wheat-heavy meal.
In discussing Celiac disease, I make no mention of people like me who have some kind of undiagnosed gluten sensitivity. Who knows how many people there are who could benefit from eating less gluten.