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. 9:
1. Judge: College owes for not paying workers for health insurance
Washington State University (WSU) was ordered to pay nearly $7 million in a settlement for not paying part-time employees who were eligible for health insurance because the state misclassified them as ineligible. Housing and dining at WSU is paying nearly $636,000 of the settlement, one of the largest amounts for any department, according to the Daily Evergreen. The department will use its reserve funds to pay the settlement. WSU wasn’t the only college involved in the statewide settlement. The University of Washington had to pay more than $16 million and Western Washington University had to pay $1.1 million. The shares for dining services for those universities weren’t specified.
Read more: WSU pays $7 million in statewide settlement
2. District fights back on proposed sugar limiting laws
The Maryland state legislature will debate sugar-limiting laws in the coming weeks, and one school board in particular is speaking out against them. The bills would require county boards to develop a plan on or before Aug. 1, 2017, to reduce students’ intake of sugar in school meals. It would also require county boards to conduct a study to help make recommendations on the results of these sugar-limiting initiatives. Read more about the proposed laws here. The Montgomery County Board of Education is fighting back against the proposed laws, saying districts already take sugar into account when creating meals and that the issue should be handled more locally at by each district’s wellness committee.
3. Did district do too good a job at cutting food waste?
Andover Public Schools’ Zero Waste Program has been heralded on many levels for its efforts to reduce food waste in its cafeterias. One effective component of the program has been the donation of leftover food. The program had initially been run by parents, but was eventually handed over to the district foodservice department to operate. Now, some parents are questioning if the program is being run correctly because there isn’t as much food being donated. That’s a good thing, according to the foodservice team, because they say they’ve educated students about taking the appropriate amount of food and then eating what they take.
4. UC launches school foodservice website
The University of California’s Global Food Initiative recently launched the Good Food for Local School website. The site offers a number of resources to help child nutrition professionals make improvements in their programs and includes information on policy, operations, research and curriculum.
Read more: UC launches Good Food for Local Schools website
5. Going organic might be easier for farmers
Farmers who want to go organic have to stop using synthetic pesticides and fertilizer for three years before any of crops can be sold as organic. But yields during those three transitions years are often lower, and the crops can’t be sold at the higher organic price. This often puts a tough burden on the farmer, but that burden may soon be eased thanks to a proposal by the Organic Trade Association recently approved by the USDA that would allow for new certification for food grown during the transition period, which the association hopes will help farmers earn higher prices. The question, however, will be if consumers will be willing to pay higher prices for “transition” product and if supermarkets can capitalize on it.
Contact Becky Schilling at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter: @bschilling_FM