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. In this special 5 Things, we look at the news surrounding the impact on foodservice from the government shutdown.
Here’s your list for the week of Jan. 7:
1. What’s going on with food inspections
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) isn’t immune to the shutdown, and FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has said that 50 percent of “high-risk” food inspections have been skipped. Gottlieb said that about 31 percent of the FDA’s inspections are considered “high-risk,” with items like low-acid canned goods, soft cheeses, prepared salads and unpasteurized juice included in that “high-risk” level. The FDA is continuing to inspect foreign imports and is still addressing outbreaks.
Read more: So Who’s Inspecting Our Food During the Government Shutdown?
2. Some USDA work continues
The USDA is, so far, continuing some of its work, including meat, poultry and processed egg inspections. Child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, have funding through February.
3. District makes changes to unpaid meal credits
Many districts have a set credit limit that students have to reach before they are no longer allowed to charge meals to their unpaid accounts. Charles County Public Schools in Maryland is increasing that limit to help any families that might be hit hard by the government shutdown. The district is allowing $30 more in credits, which amounts to two weeks worth of meals. The increase will be in place for 30 days after the shutdown ends.
Read more: Amid Government Shutdown, Charles County Schools Help Children Who Can't Pay for School Lunch
4. Smithsonian restaurants taking a hit
The dining operations at the vast operations of the Smithsonian have been closed. That includes cafes in 11 museums and galleries as well as the National Zoo. This article provides a list of all the cafes that have been closed due to the shutdown. Some, like the National Museum of American History, were able to stay open for a bit longer, until Jan. 3, with unused prior-year funds.
Read more: Government Shutdown Leads to Lost Revenue For Smithsonian Restaurants
5. A look at prison food during the holidays
This is an interesting article showing the dichotomy between holiday prison meals and the uncertainty of paychecks for those serving the meals. Holiday meals are planned weeks in advance, and many of those special meals included high-price items like steak. One prisoner wrote that he was “eatin’ like a boss” during the holiday meal. That contrasts starkly with the workers serving those meals, who aren’t sure when they will get paid, with one guard telling The Washington Post that the inmates were “eating like kings and then laughing at us.”