colorado state university kosher bistro Colorado State University
Colorado State University opened the Kosher Bistro in a dining hall this past summer. This is one example of dining services expanding specialized services.

5 things: College meal plans jump nearly 50% in price in past decade

This and more are the things you missed for the week of Jan. 16.

Each Friday I compile a list that highlights five things you probably missed in the news that week and why you should care about them.

Here’s your list for the week of Jan. 16:

1. College meal plans jump nearly 50% in price in past decade

College meal plans increased in price 47 percent in the past decade, according to federal data. But overall food costs only rose 26 percent during the same time period, reports Time. The typical cost-per-meal on a college meal plan is $7.50 compared to the $4 a meal for the average meal for Americans living on their own. There are many reasons for the discrepancy, including student demand for more variety and expensive food items. I posed this question in a column last year, but is college food too good and will there be a point at which college students and families say they are no longer willing to pay?

Read more: Here's Why Food Is So Insanely Expensive at College


2. UCLA tops list for best college food has released it annual ranking of the best college food in America, and UCLA tops the list. Virginia Tech, Washington University in St. Louis, The Culinary Institute of America and Bowdoin College round of the top five. The ranking were based primary on student surveys on the campus dining program, which accounted for 85 percent of the ranking, and the average meal plan cost (15 percent of the ranking).

Read more: 2017 Best College Food in America


3. CEP causing some issues with data collection in schools

One of the biggest impacts of implementing CEP is that its elimination of the need to collect income data from individual families could negatively affect a district’s count of low-income students, thus impacting other federal programs that use the data to account for federal funding. That’s currently the issue in Decatur City Schools in Alabama, where the district’s free and reduced percentage was at 61 percent three years ago but has since fallen to 49 percent under CEP. That decrease isn’t because fewer students meet the requirements for receiving these subsidized meals. The government is hoping to ameliorate the data issue by applying a multiplier, but in Alabama, that isn’t accurately portraying the numbers. “We know that schools that have high concentrations of poverty have greater challenges,” said Eric Mackey, executive director of School Superintendents of Alabama, in an article on “We can no longer do accurate comparisons among schools for the poverty subgroup of students, and it’s a big problem in Alabama, and it’s a problem across the nation.” 

Read more: Expanded school lunch program causing data problem for some schools  


4. Colorado says no to diet soda in schools

Last year a seven-year ban on diet soda was lifted for Colorado high schools. But that doesn’t mean high schoolers are rushing to the vending machines—six of the state’s 10 largest districts have decided to continue the ban. Some districts’ wellness policies forbid the sale of diet soda and others are considering the issue in the coming years. Federal Smart Snacks rules allow the sale of diet soda in certain instances in schools, but Colorado’s ban superseded the federal rule. Now that the ban has been lifted, districts are determining the costs and benefits of selling diet soda in schools.

Read more: Diet Nope: Colorado’s large districts still keeping diet soda out of high schools


5. Return of flavored milk cuts food waste in LAUSD 

One month into a pilot that saw the return of flavored milk in LA schools, food waste has decreased. In the 27 sites where flavored milk made it’s return, the average milk waste per student decreased and lunch participation increased by more than 1,000 meals. A study last year showed the district threw away 600 tons of organic waste each week, much of that milk.

Read more: Milk Flavors Favored to Reduce Food Waste in L.A. Schools


Bonus: Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue nominated to head USDA 


Contact Becky Schilling at [email protected].

Follow her on Twitter: @bschilling_FM

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