by Jared Gellert
Little did I know. But the USDA has been saying pizza is a vegetable since the 1970’s because of the tomato sauce. Never mind that tomatoes are actually fruits. I couldn’t believe my ears as I was listening to the radio driving to a meeting. Here’s the link. http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/2014/06/09/school-lunch-fight/
There’s actually a food fight going on about the new USDA proposed regulations for healthier food in the school cafeteria. There are a smorgasboard of issues that have allowed this mess to get politicized.
Pizza is a Vegetable? As usual, it’s about money.
The core issues are financial, as usual. It costs more to use whole grains, fruits and real vegetables (I don’t count tomato sauce as a vegetable). School cafeteria budgets are stressed and are supposed to be a break even item. If students don’t purchase the healthier food in favor of going to eat at the local McDonalds for those who can leave the campus for lunch, the school cafeteria budget really gets hurt.
That’s because the cost of labor for preparing and serving the food is the same if there are 300 meals or 270 meals. So while 270 meals costs a few less dollars, 300 meals costs less per meal. The same is true if kids opt out and bring food, gasp, from home. Additionally, companies like Aramark are pushing hard against the regulations because they will cut into their profit margins as they push French fries for the kids’ vegetable.
Pizza is a Vegetable?
The most telling comment, for me was when one guest said that in her experience in NY that the schools where the cafeteria workers knew the names of the kids were where more healthy food was eaten, less was wasted, and everything worked. This was completely independent of the socio-economic status of the students.
Excellence is excellence, even in a school cafeteria where it is hard for me at least to imagine anything other than mediocrity or worse.
There’s no way, of course, to mandate through regulation a motivated workforce that takes pride and joy in feeding children. This is a management issue, complicated by all the different tasks a principal has on her plate.
Jared Gellert is the executive director for CITE. CITE is the Center for Integrated Teacher Education. CITE trains Teachers, Counselors, and Administrators in NYC and Long Island. Give us a call! 877-922-2483