9. School lunch produce bonanza

12/28/2012 12:34:00 PM
Chuck Robinson

The push for healthier school lunches took on renewed fervor in January, when first lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack introduced new school nutrition standards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Jan. 25 at an elementary school in Fairfax. Va.

That fervor helped stoke the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign, bringing more salad bars to schools across the country.

 

Jan. 30

New school lunch standards open the door to increased produce sales

By Tom Karst, National Editor

Wholesalers and fresh produce foodservice distributors should immediately put a priority on building partnerships and business relationships with schools in their communities, said Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health for United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C.

“Schools are going to be buying a lot more fruits and vegetables, and we want those to be fresh fruits and vegetables because we want kids to taste a wide variety of fresh produce and increase their consumption.”

The long-awaited school nutrition standards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture were introduced by first lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Jan. 25 at an elementary school in Fairfax. Va.

 

Feb. 13

Let’s Move celebrates second anniversary

By Tom Karst, National Editor

The two-year anniversary of Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools in February was celebrated with prominent recognition of the program’s involvement in providing salad bars to schools.

 

Several companies helped fund salad bars in schools, including Matthews, N.C.-based Harris Teeter’s push to donate at least 10 salad bars to area schools; Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc. helping install salad bars in Orlando, Fla.-area schools; and the Houston Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association getting closer to its goal of donating 20 to the Houston Independent School District.

 

Feb. 13

Produce for Kids campaign generates record donations

By Doug Ohlemeier, Eastern Editor

Produce for Kids is thanking suppliers and retailers for helping make its most recent campaigns generate record-breaking support.

Orlando, Fla.-based Produce for Kids — which provides funding for Children’s Miracle Network-affiliated hospitals and for programs improving children’s eating habits — generated $202,000 through its fall 2011 campaign that helped PBS Kids and the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign, according to a news release.

Produce for Kids singled out Publix Super Markets Inc., Lakeland, Fla., which with 10 produce suppliers helped raise more than $115,000 in the Healthy Schools, Healthy Minds campaign to provide salad bars to 38 schools in Publix’s service region.

 

March 19

Florida agriculture department oversees state school lunch program

By Tom Karst, National Editor

Joining Texas and New Jersey, Florida has become the third state to give responsibility of school meal oversight to the state department of agriculture.

Holding promise for more state produce in school meals, the transfer of oversight of the National School Lunch Program from the state’s department of education to the Florida Department of Agriculture fulfilled a campaign promise by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

 

May 7

Texas, U.S. schools to receive salad bars

By Tom Karst, National Editor

DALLAS — Bringing the total of salad bars to 1,600 over two years, the United Fresh Foundation is donating 100 salad bars to Texas schools. ... The noon announcements kicked off the opening of the expo floor at United Fresh 2012.

 

June 4

USDA celebrates MyPlate icon’s first anniversary

By Tom Karst, National Editor

The one-year anniversary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate food icon has some convinced the image will be around for many years to come.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan joined educators and students May 30 to spotlight the first anniversary of MyPlate.

 

Aug. 6

Produce for Kids to fund class projects

By Sarah Krause, Special to The Packer

This fall, Produce for Kids goes back to school.

The Orlando, Fla.-based organization kicks off a new program designed to help fund schools’ health- and nutrition-based classroom projects.

Produce for Kids will join forces this September and October with online charity DonorsChoose.org, as well as various retailers nationwide to support the Produce for Kids “Healthy Schools, Healthy Minds” campaign.

 

The nutrition guidelines intended to make students less fat and healthier may also have made some kids’ stomachs growl.

“Thanks to the nutrition nannies at the USDA, America’s children are going hungry at school,” said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, when the No Hungry Kids Act was introduced in mid-September.

 

Sept. 24

Lawmakers challenge school lunch calorie lids

By Tom Karst, National Editor

Facing a new legislative challenge to calorie limits on updated school nutrition standards, U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan insisted the new standards give students adequate nutrition for the school day.

House Agriculture Committee members Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, introduced the No Hungry Kids Act in mid-September. The legislation would repeal the USDA’s rule that created the updated nutrition standards and would prohibit the USDA’s upper calorie limits on school meals.

 

Dec. 10

School lunch changes announced

By Tom Karst, National Editor

Responding to complaints about skimpy portions in school meals, the USDA relaxed weekly maximum limits on grains and meats served in school lunches.

A Dec. 7 memo from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to school officials asks them to disregard weekly maximums on those items because it is difficult to comply. The limits were set by nutrition guidelines that started with the school year this fall. Maximum calorie limits for school lunches are still in place, however.

 

Dec. 17

Workshop explores opportunites in schools

By Tom Burfield, Western Correspondent

CERRITOS, Calif. — School cafeterias are creating new business opportunities for every segment of the produce industry, Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health for United Fresh Produce Association, told several dozen produce suppliers and others during a Dec. 12 workshop.

By capitalizing on the new USDA school nutrition regulations and the push for salad bars in schools, the industry can come out ahead in terms of increased sales while fighting childhood obesity and improving students’ health, DiSogra said at the workshop, sponsored by United Fresh and the Fresh Produce & Floral Council.



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