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 Nov. 28:
1. Bill could limit imported food in school meals
A proposed bill would force school districts to seek a USDA waiver if they wanted to purchase food produced outside the United States. The current Buy American Act allows districts to purchase imported foods if domestic items are significantly higher in price. The bill does not, however, force districts to seek a wavier from the USDA, something the proposed American Food for American School Act would do. In addition, those waivers would be made available to the public. The bill is being proposed by California Rep. John Garamendi, who said the bill aims to make sure taxpayer money is being used to support US jobs and businesses and increase the amount of US-grown food in school meals. The bill comes after a Hepatitis A outbreak in several states, in which frozen strawberries form Egypt sickened 134 people. Those strawberries were served in schools and restaurants.
2. College dining services’ allergy policies listing
As food allergies become more prevalent in the industry, it’s important for college dining programs to meet the demands of students who are often living on their own for the first time. For many students with severe food allergies, one key factor in which college to attend is how well the college supports food-allergic customers. To help with that decision-making, Allergic Living has unveiled its “U.S. Colleges Directory; Comparing Food Allergy and GF Policies.” The list includes 92 schools. Each participating school answered 18 questions about accommodating students with food allergies and celiac disease.
3. USDA launches web-based prototype for free and reduced meal applications
The USDA has launched a web-based prototype for school districts to use to process applications for free and reduced meals. The application is not for direct household use, but rather is a model to show how a state or district could develop (perhaps with the help of a vendor) an online application for school meal benefits. The prototype is available as open source code, meaning districts or states can readily use and adapt the program, but those programs would have to be adapted and integrated with data management systems at the state and/or local levels before it can be used to process applications. It’s hard to imagine there isn’t a fully functioning electronic USDA form that households can use to submit their applications, but the good news is the USDA is working on it.
4. New venture offers meal-based subscription ordering for college students
Meal kits are all the rage. And now, one venture is specifically targeting college students. Spoon University and Chef’d have teamed up to offer a meal subscription service that would deliver a variety of prepared meals, fresh fruits, snacks and beverages each week. Other care packages would be available for purchase. The monthly subscription would be around $100. With many consumers looking to meal kit services as a way to meet their dining needs, perhaps college dining programs could offer a similar service? It could be a good source of revenue, particularly for those students who live off campus and don’t purchase meal plans.
5. Kids’ are eating better, but there’s still room for improvement
A new study found that US kids are eating better: more whole grains, whole fruits, dairy, and protein from seafood and plants; plus they are avoiding sugar-laden foods and drinks full of empty calories. Good news. The bad? They are still consuming too much sodium and consumption of vegetables has decreased. The study looked at trends between 1999 and 2012.
Read more: U.S. Kids Are Eating Healthier Now, But…