FEDERAL REGULATIONS USDA Announces Limited Meal Pattern Flexibility Last month, as this issue of School Nutrition was headed to press, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the release of new guidance that eliminates the weekly maximums for grains and proteins under the new meal pattern issued in January 2012. At this time, the elimination is only for the remainder of the 2012-13 school year. Calorie maximums for school meals will remain in place. USDA also announced that new guidance on school breakfast requirements will be released soon. “School nutrition professionals have faced significant menu planning, operating, financial challenges and more as a result of the new meal pattern requirements. USDA’s new guidance acknowledges those challenges and gives school meal programs more flexibility,” said SNA President Sandra Ford, SNS, in response to the news. “By easing weekly maximums for grains and proteins but maintaining calorie limits, USDA protects the nutritional integrity of the new standards while giving school meal programs more time to design healthy menus that meet both the new standards and students’ tastes.” USDA has not announced whether these new flexibilities for grain and protein requirements will continue into the 2013-14 school year, but officials indicated they will continue to assess the requirements over the coming months. “SNA has been in close communication with USDA this school year, sharing the challenges and successes of SNA members throughout meal pattern implementation, including concerns about the grain and protein weekly maximums,” continued Ford. “SNA will continue to report back to USDA on how these new flexibilities ease the burden on school meal programs and will make additional recommendations as warranted.” SNA members can read the full text of the guidance memo and find other updates online at www.schoolnutrition.org/mealpattern. TOOLS OF THE TRADE Dream a Little Kitchen Dream What comes to mind when you contemplate your professional “dream kitchen”? Foodservice operators shared their thoughts on the subject with research and consulting firm Y-Pulse, LLC, as part of the company’s periodic Dream Kitchen Survey™. Respondents noted that, when it comes to equipment, they are looking for flexibility, including mobility to accommodate changing needs and HAACP compliance. Some noted that manufacturers have not changed their equipment specifications in decades and as a result, such equipment may not work effectively for today’s kitchen personnel. For example, foodservice workers are now more likely to be shorter females than the tall male employees that were more common in kitchens decades ago, but equipment heights don’t reflect the needs of the new user. When it comes to the top features they would like to see in their dream kitchen equipment, respondents cited: • walk-in refrigeration with a glass door to view stock from outside; • practical items right-sized for today’s workforce in terms of height, weight and complexity; • internal doors that “disappear” when opening, rather than blocking aisles; • efficient equipment, both in functionality and energy use; • easy-to-clean or self-cleaning items; • mobility; • durability; and • contemporary décor, lighting and signage that is on trend. Those surveyed also identified the equipment pieces and systems that are finding their way into more kitchens (“in-dicators”), along with those items that are becoming obsolete or are being phased out (“end-dicators”). “In-dicators” cited by respondents included multi-function equipment and new cooking technologies that enable healthier presentation, while identified “end-dicators” included fryers, mixers and double-stack ovens. For more information about this survey, Y-Pulse and its research, visit www.ypulse.org. WHAT IS…? How Does Your Garden Grow? Hydroponics. You may have seen this term on signage in the produce section of your local supermarket or heard it related to school gardens. But do you know what it means? The word comes from two Greek words: “hydro,” meaning water, and “ponics,” meaning labor. It is a method of growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions in water. Hydroponic plants are sometimes supported with clay or sand to help support the root system. Scientists began experimenting with soilless gardening around 1950, and since then, it has proven to have several advantages. The growth rate of a plant produced hydroponically is 30-50% faster than a soil plant and the yield of the plant also is greater, as extra oxygen in the growing mediums stimulates root growth and allows plants to absorb nutrients faster. There also is much less maintenance required, and hydroponic plants have fewer problems with bugs, fungi and disease. Chances are you’ve been eating hydroponically grown produce and didn’t even know it! An estimated 95% of greenhouse vegetables—which help to meet market demand in a product’s off-season—are grown this way. In fact, the hydroponic greenhouse vegetable industry is valued at more than $2.4 billion—increasing 10% each year. Soilless gardening is attractive to many people living in urban areas vulnerable to space constraints and lacking access to green spaces. It’s not surprising that some schools have dug in, too. From high school students in Michigan who grow hydroponic tomatoes or a Missouri farmer who produces hydroponically grown vegetables for a farm-to-school program, the question “How does your garden grow?” has taken on a whole new meaning! Interested in learning more about this topic? A Resource Guide for Understanding, Teaching or Writing About Hydroponic Gardening is available from the Progressive Gardening Trade Association at www.pgta.org. INSPIRATION & MOTIVATION Escape the Holding Pattern Have you ever been on a flight that was just about to land, and then the pilot announces that you are going to remain in a “holding pattern” until you are cleared to land? It’s such a frustrating feeling, isn’t it? You can see the runway right there from your window, you have people waiting for you, a busy schedule and cramped legs, and yet you are helpless and stuck. We waited a long time for the new nutrition standards to be set for school meals. At press time, school nutrition professionals were waiting to learn how other aspects of the Healthy, Hunger- Free Kids Act of 2010 would be implemented, including nutrition standards for competitive foods and professional standards for operators working in this business. How do we make peace with waiting? Focus on what we can do, what we do well—and what we can do now. Every day, we have the opportunity to serve healthy, nutritious, safe food to kids, and we can do it with a smile. No matter what, we always have the ability to do this and do it well. But there’s more! Set goals: These could be focused on increasing breakfast participation, decreasing staff absences and receiving perfect health inspection scores. Whatever it is, goals motivate staff, give them something to work toward and help maintain your operation’s focus. The online survey site www.surveymonkey.com is a fantastic free service! Survey staff members about what motivates them or the improvements they would like to see in the operation. Use responses to start a dialogue for goal setting and team building. Focus on customer service: Beyond kids and their parents, remember to practice good customer service within the school community. Focus on how you treat the IT staff, janitors, delivery drivers, teachers or anyone that you come into contact with at your workplace. Set a goal with your team to reduce the number of complaint calls by a certain percentage over time. Prioritize employee wellness: Healthy staff members mean a happier, more productive team! Invite team members to contribute healthy recipes to a department collection, hold inservice trainings that focus on exercise or health screenings, conduct a weight loss contest, etc. Doing it together is a great way to build morale. Attend professional growth opportunities: Encourage your staff to attend state or national SNA conferences and trainings. Events like these are great ways to improve our programs and ourselves. NutrıNET Just a Pinch Recipe Club www.justapinch.com This online community features “real recipes from real home cooks.” Each submitted recipe is reviewed by website staff, who prep and highlight those with “Blue Ribbon” potential. Users can search, rate and comment on recipes, as well as access menus, grocery lists and coupons. The site hosts recipe contests and discussion groups on related topics. Recipes for Healthy Kids Cookbooks http://teamnutrition.usda. gov/Resources/recipes_for_ healthy_kids.html The top recipes in USDA’s 2010-11 Recipes for Healthy Kids contest have been compiled into a series of online cookbooks for use in schools, child care centers and homes. Recipe categories include whole grains, dark green and orange vegetables and dry beans and peas, and recipes have been scaled to appropriate yields for each setting. A Field Guide to Salad Bars in Schools http://tinyurl.com/9ze3xmj This resource guide from the Minnesota Department of Health provides detailed instructions and procedures for schools interested in introducing a salad bar. Featured topic areas include food safety, staff training, purchasing, menu, service and marketing. Calendar13 Jan13 JAN. 17-19 81st Winter Meeting, The United States Conference of Mayors Washington, D.C., (202) 293-7330 JAN. 20-22 38th Winter Fancy Food Show®, National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc. San Francisco, (212) 482-6440 JAN. 27-30 Dairy Forum 2013, International Dairy Foods Association Orlando, Fla., (202) 737-4332 JAN. 29-31 International Poultry Exposition, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association Atlanta, (678) 514-1977 Feb13 FEB. 7-9 The NAFEM Show® 13, North American Association of Foodservice Equipment Manufacturers Orlando, (312) 821-0201 FEB. 10-13 MEATXPO ’13, National Meat Association Las Vegas, (510) 763-1533 FEB. 17-20 Annual Conference, International Franchise Association Las Vegas, (202) 662-0763 FEB. 21-23 2013 National Conference on Education, American Association for School Administrators Los Angeles, (703) 528-0700 FEB. 23-27 2013 Convention, American Frozen Food Institute Anaheim, Calif., (703) 821-0770 FEB. 28-MAR. 2 Annual Conference, National Association of Secondary School Principals National Harbor, Md., (800) 253-7746 Mar13 MAR. 6-8 National Anti-Hunger Conference, Food Research and Action Center Washington, D.C., (202) 986-2200 MAR. 6-9 Annual Conference and Culinology® Expo, Research Chefs Association Charlotte, N.C., (678) 303-2963 DateBOOK January Family Fit Lifestyle Month National Skating Month National Soup Month New Year’s Resolutions Week (Jan. 1-6) Healthy Weight Week (Jan. 20-26) New Year’s Day (Jan. 1) Radio Broadcasting Anniversary (Jan. 13) Elementary School Teachers Day (Jan. 21) Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday (observed) (Jan. 21) National Pie Day (Jan. 23) February American Heart Month Library Lovers’ Month National Black History Month National Cherry Month National Hot Breakfast Month Sweet Potato Month Youth Leadership Month Children’s Authors & Illustrators Week (Feb. 3-9) National School Counseling Week (Feb. 4-8) Random Acts of Kindness Week (Feb. 11-17) National Girls and Women in Sports Day (Feb. 6) Chinese New Year (Year of the Snake) Begins (Feb. 10) Mardi Gras (Feb. 12) Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) Presidents’ Day (observed) (Feb. 18) National Chili Day (Feb. 23) March Music in Our Schools Month National Ethics Awareness Month National Nutrition Month Poison Prevention Awareness Month National School Breakfast Week (Mar. 4-8) Dr. Seuss’ Birthday (Mar. 2) Registered Dietitian Day (Mar.13) St. Patrick’s Day (Mar. 17) Spring Begins (Mar. 20) Easter (Mar. 31) Eiffel Tower Anniversary (Mar. 31) Enter toWIN Hall of FAME Melanie Konarik, SNS, director of child nutrition for Spring Independent School District in Houston, Texas, has been named the 2013 Golden School Foodservice Director of the Year in the annual FAME (Foodservice Achievement Management Excellence) awards competition. Konarik was selected for her outstanding achievement in leadership, spirit/dedication, innovation, career awards, management systems, humanitarianism/community involvement and bettering the lives of students. Five other school nutrition professionals were recognized by the FAME selection panel, which included winners of the 2012 competition, as well as the editors of School Nutrition and other trade publications, plus SNA President Sandra Ford, SNS. The 2013 FAME Awards are made possible with the generous support of Basic American Foods, Schwan’s Food Services, Inc., and Tyson Foods, Inc. Lori Drenth, RD, SNS, director of food and nutrition services, Hernando County School District, Brooksville, Fla., was named winner of the Silver Leadership Award. The Silver Spirit Award went to Amy Harkey, RD, SNS, child nutrition assistant director, Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Schools, and Robert Lewis, PhD, director of nutrition services, El Monte (Calif.) School District, earned the Silver Special Achievement Award. Jim Hemmen, executive chef and child nutrition services supervisor, Roosevelt School District, Phoenix, Ariz., received this year’s Silver Rising Star Award. Finally, Gary Vonck, vice president, education division, KeyImpact Sales & Systems, Naperville, Ill., was named Silver Friend of Child Nutrition. In addition, this year’s honoree of the Gertrude Applebaum Lifetime Achievement Award, selected exclusively by the FAME sponsors, is Frank Harris, retired after decades of service as child nutrition director for Norwalk (Conn.) Public Schools, but still a passionate advocate for universal school meals. The awards will be presented at SNA’s Child Nutrition Industry Conference in San Antonio, Texas, this month. Farm-tastic! The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the winners of its first Farm to School grants, which will help schools respond to the growing demand for locally sourced foods and increase market opportunities for area producers, processors, manufacturers and distributors. The grants also will support agriculture and nutrition education efforts. More than 3,200 schools and 1.75 million students will benefit from these grants. For a full list of grantees and abstracts of their winning proposals, visit http://tinyurl.com/abz4gjv. Get Baking! Amateur youth bakers ages 12 to 17 and amateur adult bakers are invited to enter the 2013 National Festival of Breads™, a contest presented by King Arthur Flour, Fleischmann’s Yeast and the Kansas Wheat Commission. Entries must incorporate Fleischmann’s Yeast and King Arthur Flour. Kids may enter recipes in the Rolls or Whole-Grain Breads categories, while adults may submit entries in the Ethnic Breads, Rolls, Time-Saving and Simple Breads and Whole-Grain Breads categories. One grand-prize adult winner will receive $2,000 and a trip to attend a baking class at the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center in Norwich, Vt. One youth grand-prize winner will receive $500 and a round trip to the National Festival of Breads in Manhattan, Kan., in June 2013 to demonstrate his or her winning recipe. The deadline to enter is January 31, 2013. To enter or for more information, visit www.americasbread basket.com/nfob. Sustainable Success The Hobart Center for Foodservice Sustainability will award a $5,000 grant to the organization judged to have the best-executed foodservice sustainability project. Applicants must submit a case study written in 10 or fewer pages explaining how their operation addresses one or more of the following challenges: reducing energy and water use, decreasing wastewater or solid waste or implementing farm-to-fork initiatives or other combined programs. Submissions must be received by January 31, 2013. To learn more and to download an application, visit http://tinyurl.com/8hncne4. Healthy Hits Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Golden Carrot Awards, sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The awards recognize school districts that promote vegetarian options and take other proactive steps to offer nutrition education and improve school meals. The grand prize went to Saint Paul (Minn.) Public Schools, which offers unlimited access to fresh fruits and vegetables and serves such menu options as black bean and edamame salad, Moroccan rice and whole-grain pasta with marinara sauce. Runners-up were Spartanburg (S.C.) District Seven and Novato (Calif.) Public School District. An honorable mention went to Sand Path Academy in San Francisco. To read more about the winners and the award program, visit http://pcrm. org/media/news/doctors-name-healthiestschool- lunch-programs-us. Pasta Perfection Barilla Foodservice has announced the winners of its first Go for Great Grains Recipe Contest. Christina Welch (pictured here, far right), interim director of child nutrition for Judson Independent School District, San Antonio, Texas, earned top honors in the K-12 category with her Roasted Veggie Pasta Mix. Check out the winning recipes at www.barillafood servicerecipes.com.
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