There is no shortage of ethical challenges in a school nutrition setting. Raise awareness about these with members of your own team by discussing the following case study. School Nutrition Director Amy Tastegood has been working on the district’s standardized recipes to ensure that they comply with the latest changes in the federal nutrition standards. As she distributed the recipes to her managers, she acknowledged that students might be initially resistant to the new recipes. Manager Sara Spicy has been serving the new recipes, but she is concerned that even with the menus cycling a number of times, the students continue to complain, the trash cans are full and there has been a drop in participation. She and her kitchen team decide to take some initiative to make a few small changes in the recipes to improve customer satisfaction. The team knows that they can’t add salt to any of the recipes. So, they brainstorm other ways to add flavor, deciding to: » add beef broth to the taco meat; » add additional BBQ sauce to the BBQ Chicken Sandwich; » use homemade Italian seasoning that Maria makes from her grandmother’s recipe to add to the spaghetti sauce; and » add a little bit of extra cheese to the nachos, because the kids complain it’s not enough. Manager Sara knows that Director Amy will not approve of these changes and decides not to tell her. She asks her staff not to say anything, either. One employee notes that these changes could be violating federal regulations and another person points out that added ingredients could affect food costs. Manager Sara insists that these changes are so small, they won’t have much of a negative impact, especially in light of the positive results. “After all, the kids are much happier,” she notes, “and isn’t that what is most important? Isn’t our job to feed them and not feed trashcans? ” As an employee uncomfortable with the changes and the secret, What Should You Do? SUGGESTED TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION: • What aspects of this case study make you uneasy? Why or why not? • As described, are any of the actions illegal? Immoral? Could someone’s job be at risk? • What might the reaction be if details about this scenario were shared outside the department? How would reactions vary among school administrators/board of education members, the state agency, the media and parents? • Do we have a district or department policy that would apply to this situation? Does everyone know about it and adhere to it? • Does this scenario bring up other ethical challenges we should discuss? • How should we go about raising concerns or reporting incidents of unethical behaviors? What if we don’t all agree that an activity or behavior is unethical? • How would you answer the question posed at the end of the scenario? What Should You Do? Ethical Decision-Making In School Nutrition This ethical case study was developed for but may or may not be included in the final version of SNA’s What Should You Do? Ethical Decision-Making in School Nutrition training course (see page 44). The discussion questions included here are intended to help SN readers raise awareness about ethical dilemmas in the workplace. SNA’s programming goes further, guiding participants through a decision-making tree and providing other resources to build skills.
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