School nutrition standard opt-out is Congress’ cop-out - The Packer

School nutrition standard opt-out is Congress’ cop-out

05/30/2014 09:32:00 AM
Tom Stenzel

It’s about serving a wide variety of high quality, great tasting fresh produce.

The fresh produce industry stands ready to support SNA and all of its members in implementing the fruit and vegetable requirements.

We commit to providing school foodservice directors with technical assistance, training in produce procurement and handling and sharing best practices of what’s working in thousands of schools across the country.

That’s why United Fresh and our members have created a 1,600-square-foot Fresh Produce Pavilion at the upcoming SNA convention in July. We can’t compete with the promotion and glitz of the food companies that exhibit at SNA.

But we can bring produce distributors to act as consultants, product samples to show the variety of produce available, salad bars and vending options to demonstrate how to serve items kids want.

We are there to help foodservice directors where they need it most.

Unfortunately, the debate in Congress is likely to continue. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that too often people have a vested interest in extending polarized debate rather than seeking reasonable compromise.

This battle has some of those earmarks, but I’m optimistic wiser heads will prevail.

The Senate Appropriations Committee took just that approach last week, passing provisions to help schools deal with stringent requirements for sodium and whole grains, without gutting the basic requirement that schools serve at least one half-cup of fruits and vegetables in meals.

USDA, United Fresh and the public health community support that compromise. However, the House Appropriations Committee has continued down its slippery slope, rejecting an amendment offered by Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., that would have preserved the school meal rules.

Another thing I’ve learned over the years is that every issue has a flow to it, and sometimes you can win a war while losing a battle.

Rep. Farr lost the vote in committee, but debate over rolling back school meal standards is rapidly spreading through the countryside, alerting moms and dads who will not sit by quietly if Congress doesn’t have the gumption to feed kids a half-cup of fruits and vegetables in school lunches.

As the appropriations bill comes forward to the House floor, we urge members to work together on a bipartisan basis to strike the blanket variances allowing schools to opt out of all nutrition standards, and instead develop language that supports flexibility where it’s really needed, without rolling back the very basic principle that school meals need to include at least a half-cup of produce.

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July, 16, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Mr. Stenzel, I am feeling your desire to put more money in your own pocket with the taxpayers money. The SNA is not asking to take your fruits and veggies off the menus. They just want the kids to decide on there own (what a concept) what and how much they want to eat. You guys make me laugh at how you slam the SNA and make them look so bad just so you can keep selling your product. It not about the kids with you , ITS ABOUT THE MONEY, MONEY, MONEY.

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