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5 things: Thousands urge Congress not to roll back school meal regs

This and more are the things you missed for the week of Jan. 29.

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. 29:

1. Thousands urge Congress not to roll back school meal regs

Back in November the USDA asked for comments on the newly published School Meal Flexibility Rule, which included some rollbacks on requirements in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Those rollbacks included pushing back sodium requirements, exemptions for whole-grain rich products and allowing some operators to serve low-fat flavored milk. As part of the procedure surrounding new policy, the USDA asked for public comment on the proposals—and nearly 80,000 people filed comments opposing the rollbacks, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). CSPI also said it conducted a survey recently that found that 60 percent of Americans opposed rolling back the standards.

Read more: 80,000 Urge Trump Administration Not to Roll Back Progress on School Nutrition

2. District to offer premium lunch option

A New Jersey school district will soon offer a premium lunch option for its students. Regular lunch costs $3 and the premium version would cost $3.50. The premium lunch would differ from the regular one by offering name-brand deli cuts and packages of chips.

Read more: Central Middle School To Offer “Premium Lunch” 

3. Bird in dining hall causes lunch issues

A bird in a dining hall at Emory University caused dining services to shut down that hall for an hour last week. It offered students a $10 voucher (in exchange for a meal swipe) if they tried to eat in the hall while it was closed. At least 30 students received the vouchers. The university called an animal catcher to catch the bird, but it finally exited the building of its own accord.

Read more: Not on the Menu: Loose Bird Forces Dining to Halt DUC-ling Operations

4. School turns leftovers into meals for needy

When a student at Culver Academies in Indiana noticed the amount of food from the meal program being thrown away, she jumped into action. Culver had been composting the leftover food, but it admitted that wasn’t working out well. So now, each day the students and dining services members pack up leftover food into microwaveable meals that go to Meals on Wheels and the local food pantry. The team packs up about 92 meals each day.

Read more: Culver school starts program to reduce food waste and feed hungry people

5.  Here’s a look at school meals in this country

Every week it seems we hear another story, complete with photos, of unappetizing school meals. This story is the total opposite—it shows the good side of school meals. Now, to be fair, it includes photos from charter and prep schools, which don’t have to comply with USDA guidelines for school meals. But just because a school is on the USDA program doesn’t mean it serves poor-quality or badly prepared meals. Let’s take this opportunity for positive talk about school meal programs and build on it.

Read more: America’s fanciest school lunches will make you really hungry

Bonus: Sodexo’s vending/micromarket hybrid fills a market niche 

Contact Becky Schilling at [email protected].

Follow her on Twitter: @bschilling_FM

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