Editor's Note: Both of the letters below were quite lengthy and were edited and are truncated here because of space considerations. Both make many additional points. The original letters can be read in their entirety on our website, under the original editorial columns, at: food-management.com/editors_page/what-would-jamie-do-0410/ and food-management.com/editors_page/squeeze-play-campus-dining-0310/
Our readers are invited to weigh in on either topic with their own website comments…
Another Perspective on Commuter Meal Plans
I AM WRITING TO YOU IN RESPONSE TO your Editor's page in the March issue of FM, “A Squeeze Play in Campus Dining.” I am a loyal reader and a foodservice director with over 25 years in the industry and wanted to provide another perspective…to respond to some important points that were raised, and raise a few of my own.
Mr. Lawn makes an accurate assessment in noting that higher education costs are on a rapid rise…. He is also correct in his estimation of the financial struggles that many higher education institutions face in today's economic situation. The majority are looking at new and alternative ways, beyond tuition, with which they can financially sustain their institutions.
However, when Mr. Lawn discusses mandatory commuter meal plans, he seems to dismiss them as problematic, and a cause for concern. Mr. Lawn's evaluation of adopting any form of a meal plan requirement for commuters as “sending the wrong signals via campus food and meal plan prices [and] can make the public perception worse, not better.”
I believe Mr. Lawn fails to look beyond the obvious fiscal opportunity for universities. Many institutions, especially those with high commuter student populations, can benefit in numerous ways by adopting some type of meal plan for commuter students. Most are forced to structure meal plans based on the resident population while the overall program is meant to benefit all members of the campus community, residents and commuters alike.
There are several ways that adopting a mandatory commuter meal plan can help maintain or even lower food pricing for all students. [continued on FM website]
Name and Institution Withheld
Do just one thing more
YOUR COMMENTS ABOUT THE JAMIE Oliver Food Revolution show in your April editorial are quite compelling. As the president (and a chef) of the school food consulting company Sustainable Food Systems, LLC, one working on the Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution project on the ground in Huntington, WV, I'm compelled to share some ‘behind the scenes’ true reality of the reality television series.
To frame this perspective, it's important to understand our approach wherever we work. We first identify opportunities, and then get to work making sustainable change. These transformations are about moving forward, one step at a time — one child at a time. Doing “one thing more” — each day…
The challenges Cabell County School System faces day-to-day are in step with the majority of school food operations in this country. The attention to detail and commitment to providing the best they can, is reflected in everything the administration and cooks do. These folks are some of the most compassionate, hard working and proud food service personnel I've encountered.
So let's ask your questions and also ask, “What would Jamie do?” Allow me to share the real story here in Huntington.
FM: What is the likelihood of Chef Oliver having a lasting impact on the lifestyles of Huntington?
JT: Take Alice, the steely eyed ‘lunch lady’ Jamie encounters in our pilot school. Once the lead ‘doubter,’ she has now become the ‘champion’ for 26 other schools…and the one helping to teach and train her peers. That's a lifestyle change that is impacting well over 100 others, who will in turn impact several thousand more. In addition, we've worked hard toft ensure the new menus comply with budgetary and nutritional guidelines, and that they satisfy the biggest requirement — children's taste.
FM: What if the kids chose to disdain his creations?
JT: In some cases, the participation dropped immediately after we transitioned… [continued here]