Beyond the Headlines: Proposed Meal Pattern, Nutrition Standards in Schools

The proposed meal patterns made prominent headlines in November, as Congress considered the now-famous “pizza-as-a-vegetable” question. There was hardly a media outlet that didn’t turn the spotlight, at least briefly, to the questions surrounding the proposed meal patterns and the role Congress should play in the regulatory processes of developing nutrition standards for school meals.

Naturally we read many of these articles to gain insight into how the issue was being perceived by the media and the public at large; we thought we would share some of the most thoughtful, well-written ones with you and open up the discussion here at Beyond Breakfast. We want to know about your reaction to the proposed meal patterns and last week’s news about pizza, potatoes, and school lunch; leave us your thoughts in the comments section.

School lunches: Balancing nutrition with what kids like (Gainesville Times; November 20, 2011): This balanced article explores the realities of school foodservice, and the impact health and restaurant trends have on how school food professionals develop menus, balancing what kids like with nutrition requirements.

“Pizza is a vegetable” Just One Slice of School Meal Regulation Pie (; November 21, 2011): The article asks the reader to dive deeper, and think beyond the “pizza=vegetable” headline that topped so many stories surrounding the Congressional intervention on pizza sauce. Long-term health costs associated with nutrition and proper funding of the proposed meal patterns is addressed by author Dana Woldow.

Federal Lunch Rules to Affect Wisconsin Schools (Ashland Current; November 26, 2011): Although the article is specific to the state of Wisconsin, we think that most school foodservice professionals and parents will relate to the content. A balanced discussion of how to balance what’s best for students with cost concerns.

Gazette Opinion: Don’t tell kids, Nutrition packed into school meals (Billings Gazette; November 27, 2011): This editorial article digs a little deeper, past the headline-generating buzzwords from last week’s pizza/vegetable controversy. The focus is on ways that key stakeholders are working together to make school meals healthier for students, even before the proposed meal patterns take effect.

Food for thought: Area school districts boost nutrition in menu plans (Kansas City Star; November 25, 2011): Many schools aren’t waiting for the proposed meal patterns to take effect, or paying attention to the media noise around the topic. “The ‘pizza is a vegetable’ thing is so blown out of proportion,” says director of nutrition services (Hickman Mills) Leah Schmidt, as she explains ways schools and suppliers work together to deliver healthier meals to school children.

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