School foodservice operators are concerned about a wide variety of issues that range from the new USDA rules regarding the sale of competitive foods to the way student allergies must be accommodated in the lunch room. Here are background articles on these and other issues to help you be more informed about them.

What Implications Do New Competitive Foods Rules Have for K-12 Foodservice Revenues?

USDA tried to estimate the effects the new competitive food rules from the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 would have on breakfast and lunch school meal revenues. It released its findings in  this June 2013 report  by its Economic Research Service.

The analysis looked at the widely differing contributions suchsales make to school programs depending on the nature of the school and districts involved, ranging from those in affluent suburban districts to those in large, urban and pverty-stricken districts. It also evaluated competitive food consumption differences between K-8 and secondary school populations.
 
There is a wide range of market, consumption and demographic data in this report that paints the picture of an issue that is far from simple. You can download a pdf of it, here: Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods in Schools: Implicatons for Foodservice Revenues.
 

Moving Beyond the Cafeteria

School directors are engrossed in the details on competitive food rule implementation, but this New York Times article shows the way the issue is being presented to the public: U.S. Standards for School Snacks Move Beyond Cafeteria to Fight Obesity. 
 

What School Nutrition Directors Want Congress to Understand

Next month, the School Nutrition Association and child nutrition directors and suppliers from across the country will descend on the capitol to educate Congress about the impact legislation is having on their school meal programs. For a quick review of the top items on SNA's agenda, download a copy of its 2014 Position Paper on Federal Child Nutrition Programs and a copy of its Talking Points for Child Nutrition
 

If You Lead the Kids to Water, Will They Drink It?

New rules under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act require that school meal programs serve students more fruits and vegetables, but questions remain about whether that causes an actual increase in their consumption. 
 
This report by USDA's Economic Research Service, Fruit and Vegetable Consumption by School Lunch Participants, examined data from earlier studies of consumption behavior when additional fruits and vegetables were offered. It states that "most students did not eat any of the offered fruits and vegetables...sugggesting that additional methods may need to be considered to meet nutritional goals."
 
 

SCHOOL LUNCH: Modifications Needed to Some of the New Nutrition Standards

In 2012-13, many schools had great difficulty meeting the part of the new USDA meal patterns that required meat and grain maximums. This June, 2013 report by the General Accountability Office, SCHOOL LUNCH: Modifications Needed to Some of the New Nutrition Standards, recommended that USDA permanently remove the requirements and give districts more flexibility in grades 6-8 and 9-12 lunches.
 

To Make the Healthy Foods Grade, Many Schools Also Need a Serious Kitchen Upgrade

A December 2013 report from the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that the vast majority of school foodservvice authorities (operators) need additional kitchen equipment if they are to successfully implement the updated meal pattern standards. Download a copy of the full, Kids Safe and Healthful Food Project report here: http://www.pewtrusts.org/uploadedFiles/wwwpewtrustsorg/Reports/Kids_Safe_and_Healthful_Foods/KITS_Equipment_Report.pdf
 

CDC Issues Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools

The Center for Disease Control was charged with developing  a set of voluntary guidelines for managing allergies in schools by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011 and released them last October. Intended for school administrators, parents and staff, they identify five priority areas that should be addressed in each school's Food Allergy Management Prevention Plan.