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 March 26:
1. Brazilian schools go 100% plant-based
Plant-based is certainly the “it” trend in foodservice these days, and four cities in Brazil are moving to 100 percent plant-based meals by the end of 2019. The cities, Serrinha, Barroca, Teofilandia and Biritinga, say the move will reduce their environmental footprints, help local produce farmers and teach children healthy dining habits. The move is part of the "Escola Sustentável" (Sustainable School) project, which is being spearheaded by the Humane Society International and will impact 30,000 students and 23 million meals each year. The group says the move will reduce meat, dairy and egg consumption by as much as 25 percent each semester. According to Eco Watch, the two-year pilot program will have lunches consisting of soy, rice milk, peanut butter, vegetables, root vegetables, grains and whole-wheat bread. Students will be tested for health outcomes after the two years in areas such as weight, height, body composition, vitamin B12, total cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose levels.
2. Nashville cuts back on free meal program
Students in Nashville’s public schools may no longer receive free meals. The district has been providing free meals to all students, regardless of payment status, since 2014. Under the program, students were not required to turn in free meal applications. The district, however, says that its percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced meals has decreased from 60 percent to 50 percent, meaning the district has been forced to make up the difference in payment. Under the CEP program, schools can serve all students free meals, but they are only reimbursed by the federal government based on their free and reduced percentage. The district said that the budget shortfall was nearly $8 million. Starting next year, the free meals program will be limited to 74 schools. Breakfast will continue to be free for all students as funding for that program comes from different sources.
3. Cali hospitals, prisons may be required to serve vegan meals
Following last week’s announcement of a Florida hospital offering a 100-percent vegan patient meal each day, a bill introduced in California would require hospitals and prisons to offer vegan meal options. While California’s penal code requires prisons to offer inmates access to vegetarian meals, the groups sponsoring the bill say vegan meals are even healthier.
4. NYC resolutions calls for ban on processed meat in schools
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, some government officials are asking that processed meats be banned from NYC school cafeteria menus. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera introduced their resolution late last week, saying that a plant-based diet (which both men have adopted) is healthier for students.
5. NYC workers make complaints in new survey
The foodservice workers at CUNY (City University of New York) cafeterias say they are underpaid and have encountered poor working conditions, according to a first-ever survey. One-fourth of the foodservice workers at the 14 campuses were surveyed, and the results found “a steady diet of low wages, few benefits, precarious schedules and labor violations,” according to the New York Times. The survey comes at a time when CUNY foodservice locations have come under fire. One cafeteria was closed in December for mice and flies, while two dozen workers testified at a public hearing in November, “charging health violations and making allegations of harassment, wage theft and discrimination,” according to the Times.
Bonus: Vote for 2018 Menu Madness
Contact Becky Schilling at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter: @bschilling_FM