Tag Archives: USDA

Foodservice Industry Week in Brief: 1/27

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Here are five stories from the foodservice industry for Jan. 23-27.

Progress with School Nutrition
From USDA, Read Blog

Image: jdurham/MorgueFile

There’s been much buzz over school nutrition over the past few years, especially though the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  This week more progress was made when the USDA announced the new standards for school nutrition.  Some of the changes include more fruits and vegetables, only only offering fat-free or low-fat milk and basing calorie counts on a child’s age  so they get the accurate portion size.  For the full report, read the USDA’s blog.

Restaurants Adding To Menus

This week seems to have had quite a bit of news with restaurants adding to their menus.  Here are few of the places mentioned:

  • Starbucks: Beer, wine and additional food items (i.e. hot flatbread)
  • Taco Bell: Breakfast with items such as egg or sausage burritos, hash browns, Cinnabon and coffee
  • McDonalds: Chicken McBites

Vancouver Restaurant Sells One Expensive Hot Dog
From The Canadian Press, Read Article

Image: alvimann/MorgueFile

Depending where your restaurant is, what the occasion is etc., a typical price for the standard hot dog can be anywhere from $1 to $3. Sometimes you might hit an event where it’s more expensive. However one Vancouver restaurant has developed a hot dog that really has stepped it up–in both toppings and price.  According to a HuffPost Food article from The Canadian Press, DougieDog Hot Dogs has created “The Dragon Dog” which consists of items on the hot dog such as cognac, Kobe beef and lobster. All at a pretty penny, of course… it’s only $100. There’s much more to this hot dog, visit Huff Post Food to read all about it.

Restaurant Super Bowl Deals Out
From Nation’s Restaurant News, Read Article

Image: kahanaboy/MorgueFile

There are certain events the restaurant industry can benefit from and the Super Bowl is definitely one of them.  According to the National Restaurant Association, approximately 48 million Americans will order takeout or delivery while watching the big game and 12 million will go out to a restaurant. NRN went into some detail looking into some of the special deals going on.  Be sure to let us know what your restaurant is doing below!  Read more on the NRN website.

Indianapolis Foodservice Impacted by the Super Bowl
From Central Restaurant Products, Read Blog

Image: Indianapolis Super Bowl Press Center

For most cities across the U.S., Super Bowl Sunday is a big day.  But for Indianapolis, they’re actually getting 10 big days!  This year Central’s hometown of Indianapolis is hosting Super Bowl 46.

There’s a lot that takes place in a city when a Super Bowl is coming to down and it dramatically affects all businesses–foodservice industry especially.  Central talked to different restaurants, food trucks and other organizations to get the scoop and a behind the scenes look on what it takes to prepare for the big game (and all that comes with it).

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.


Where to Get in on the Farm-to-Fork Trend

Back in September of 1992, the Organic Trade Association started “Organic Harvest Month™” to promote the use of “organic food and agriculture through regional and local events,” laying down the path for what would eventually become the  Farm-to-Fork movement.   More recently the United States Department of Agriculture brought the Farm-to-Fork movement to the forefront by starting the “Know Your Farmer Know Your Food” program as a “commitment to strengthening local and regional food systems.”

FarmThe main interest for both of these programs lies in something that is quickly becoming one of the hottest trends in food, Farm-to-Fork (also sometimes referred to as Farm-to-Table).   This trend is basically defined as food coming directly from a local source.  A hundred years ago this local sourcing of  food was commonplace.   However, as more people moved away from farms and into cities, the ritual of obtaining food became something most often done within the walls of a grocery store where produce, meats and other products usually come from different states and even occasionally another country.   But within the last few decades, many people have started going back to the Farm-to-Fork way of eating both to ensure fresher (often organic) foods and to help their local farmers.

As the summer comes to an end, many Farm-to-Fork events are popping up all over the country to help get the word out about the movement.  We’ve found a few of the annual Farm-to-Fork festivals around the U.S. that may just inspire you to take the leap and join in on the trend.

Festival:  Farm to Fork Events
Where:  Oregon
When:  Various dates from June to October
What:  Every few weeks a dinner is hosted on a local Oregon farm.  Each dinner features one local winery, a producer and/or chef to create the meal from the farm’s harvest and even live music from local bands.   During the event guests are provided with a tour of the host-farm, a meal and information on the meal’s elements and any non-profit partners involved.  This year there was also a 4-day Farm to Fork Rafting adventure down Oregon’s Rogue River.

Festival:  Farm to Fork Food Invasion
Where: Alabama
When:  Dates vary from year to year.  In 2011, it will be held November 11th and 12th.
What: This two day event is put on by the Hampstead Institute, a non-profit dedicated to sustainable living and growing a healthier community.   The first night consists of a 35-seat, Farm-to-Fork Dinner.  The second day is a Farm-to-Fork festival with live music, food and drink tastings wrapping up with a pig roast.

And just in case you can’t make it to one of these festivals, we’ve also found five great restaurants across the U.S. that follow the movement and are open year-around.

1)      The Inn at Red Hills in Dundee, Oregon
2)      Husk in Charleston, South Carolina
3)      Station 220 in Bloomington, Illinois
4)      Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore, Maryland
5)      Route 7 Grill in Great Barrington, Massachusetts

For more information on the benefits of the Farm-to-Fork movement or the “Know Your Farmer Know Your Food” program be sure to visit Food Insight.


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.

What’s Been Going On with National School Meal and Fitness Programs?

Even though students have been out of the classroom and cafeteria for the summer, the national programs have kept themselves busy.  Much has been going on and as students are heading back, here is a recap of a few important events.

SNA’s “The State of School Nutrition 2011”

Image from SNA website

The School Nutrition Association (SNA) released their “School Nutrition Operations Report: The State of School Nutrition 2011,” and it looks like many schools will be guiding their students in a healthier direction.

They reported in this press release, “…more than 69 percent of the 1,294 directors surveyed consider implementing recently proposed nutrition standards for school meals, which require more of these healthy options, to be their top concern.” The lack of healthy foods was caused by a combination of funding limitations and food costs.  Now, schools all over the country are working hard to serve more nutritious meals. Click here for the full press release.

The USDA Grants Over $7.5 Million To National School Meal Programs

Stemming from SNA’s “The State of School Nutrition 2011,” many schools claimed monetary issues as the reason behind a lack of healthier foods.  Well, it looks as though the USDA has recognized this issue, and found aiding this cause to be a great investment.

On August 18 they announced this grant, (stated in this press release), and said by granting this money, it will “improve efficiency and accuracy of National School Lunch and Breakfast programs.” States awarded grants include Hawaii, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Washington.  They mention grant periods will be between one and three years.  To find full information, click here for their full press release.

Let’s Move! Holds Family Fitness Day

First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative has been inspiring schools, children, parents, etc. to live a healthier lifestyle filled with nutritious foods and exercise.   On August 22, they held a Let’s Move Outside! Family Fitness Day at Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.

According to the Let’s Move website, there were around 400 children and their parents in attendance.  The event held their first “Spectacle Island 5K Race and Kids Fun Run,” and also included various exercise and activity programs and workshops.


Below are a list of resources to bookmark to keep informed during this school year:

Afterschool Snacks

Let’s Move! Blog

National School Lunch Program

National School Breakfast Program

School Nutrition Association News

USDA Newsroom

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


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


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)


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


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:


Cafeteria Composting Plan

World Health Organization (WHO) Global School Health Initiative

USDA School Meals

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?