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5 things: Are school meals good for all students?

This and more are the things you missed for the week of Jan. 30.

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. 30:

1. Healthcare system cuts soda, “junk” food

As hospitals try to better mirror the healthcare mission of the system within their foodservice selections, some hospitals have eliminated sugary beverages. Intermountain Healthcare, in Utah, is doing that and more by cutting “junk” food from its cafeterias, clinics and vending machines. The system is still trying to determine how much is too much sugar and which items will then fall under the ban, but items like soda, donuts and candy are getting the boot. The system has not said what would replace those items.

 Read more: No More Junk Food in Vending Machines and Cafeterias at Intermountain Healthcare Facilities

2. Are school meals good for all students?

Often, studies show that school meals are either better or worse than the nutritional quality of home-packed meals, but those studies don’t look at the impact of school meals versus home-packed meals in conjunction with the quality of meals consumed outside the school setting. That’s the question a new study by Travis A. Smith, an assistant professor in the department of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Georgia, looked to answer. Smith found that for students with low-quality diets benefitted greatly from a nutritional standpoint by eating school meals. For students who had high-quality diets, the impact was slightly negative to neutral.

Read more: Do school food programs improve child dietary quality?

3. Students question addition of blended burgers in dining halls

Blending burgers are all the rage right now for both health and sustainability reasons. But not everyone is happy with this addition to their dining hall menus. Students at the University of Connecticut expressed some frustrations with a new blended mushroom burger that was rolled out this semester without warning from dining services. A petition was introduced asking for the beef burgers to return to menus, and it has received more than 250 signatures.

Read more: Blended burger met with criticism

4. Donors help pay off students’ meal debts

Unpaid meal debts are a huge problem for many school districts across the country. A School Nutrition Survey conducted last year found that nearly three-quarters of districts had unpaid meal debts at the end of the 2015-2016 school year. Many students with unpaid debts receive an alternative meal, which has caused some issues in school (remember the “sandwich of shame” incident in Indiana last year?) In a really cool trend being seen across the country, people are stepping up and asking others to help pay off students’ meal debts. For example, a writer in New York City took to Twitter to ask her followers to help pay off the debt.

Read more: No free lunch: Donors come forward to erase students' debts

5. Mayo Clinic, foodservice workers come to labor agreement

Following months of conflict between the Mayo Clinic and its foodservice workers, an agreement has been reached. The conflict began when the Clinic decided to change its contract management company to Morrison Healthcare from Sodexo. In the agreement, the workers through their union agreed to a financial bridge worth between $3 million and $4.5 million through the end of the year. That was in exchange for the workers dropping a complaint and grievance filed last year against the Clinic. In addition, the workers were granted a four-month window of “super seniority” status to consider returning to jobs at the clinic.

Read more: Mayo Clinic, food service workers settle labor conflict

Bonus: Underutilized fish stories, tips and things to know: from dock to dining hall

Contact Becky Schilling at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter: @bschilling_FM

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