In this edition of 5 Things, Food Management highlights five things you may have missed recently about developments affecting onsite dining.
Here’s your list for today:
1. Ohio expands no-cost school meals
More Ohio students who qualify for reduced-priced meals will now be able to eat breakfast and lunch at school, even if their families cannot pay for it, thanks to a provision in the $191 billion, two-year state budget recently approved by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. "We're very encouraged that lawmakers restored investments in school meals for more Ohio children," stated Katherine Ungar, senior policy associate for the Children's Defense Fund-Ohio. "What this means is that it will allow all students who qualify for reduced price meals to now access these meals at no cost."
2. Compostable plastics get trashed
Although compostable packaging is easy to spot, compost bins to put it in are not. All of my office forks and soggy fiber packaging have gone straight into the kitchen trash, just like normal plastic would. Only a tiny fraction of this compostable packaging and plastic, it turns out, is actually getting composted. Even if restaurants, homes, and office buildings have composting bins, in most places this pile of compostable trash has nowhere to go: America doesn’t have the composting infrastructure to deal with it. These products might have the potential to be better for the planet than traditional plastic, but right now, compostable plastic is just plastic.
Read more: Compostable Plastic Is Garbage
3. A look at UNH’s food waste reduction program
The 360-acre Kingman Research Farm is just one part of the University of New Hampshire's robust composting program, which began in the mid 1990s. The operation starts in UNH’s dining halls, where the emphasis is on reducing the overall waste streams by providing tools and information that minimize pre- and post-consumer waste (i.e., the amount of waste returned on diners’ plates and trays). On the post-consumer side, some of these methods include purchasing denuded (fat-trimmed) beef and growing some of the produce right on campus, including at two high tunnels managed by the Farm to YoU NH program and located adjacent to the Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center. On the post-consumer side, methods include signage that encourages the importance of portion control to reducing waste, the use of serving spoons that are sized for single portions of the food they dish out and the Wildcat Plate with information on portion sizes.
Read more: From the Dining Halls to the Farm Fields
4. Sacramento Schools rolls out mobile food pantry
The Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) in California has mobilized a food program for the summer to make sure kids don’t go hungry. Central Kitchen is working with the district to provide a mobile food pantry for anyone in the Sacramento community. The curbside, grab-and-go mobile food pantry is available at five SCUSD locations weekdays between July 5 and Aug. 18 from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The distribution includes fruits, vegetables, and groceries for the week.
5. Hospital teams with nonprofit on food pantry
Southold’s Center for Advocacy, Support and Transformation (CAST) is partnering with Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport, N.Y. to combat health inequity and food insecurity. The “Food as Medicine” program connects qualified hospital patients to CAST, giving them access to the nonprofit’s food pantry and other services. The partnership is part of an effort by hospitals nationwide to improve health equity in their communities.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]