“Vegetarian” Cocoa Puffs: Boston School Cafs on the Front Lines of the Food Wars – NPQ – Nonprofit Quarterly

By Susan Raab, Posted 18 March 2015

School lunch is big business, and the meals provided by school cafeterias are both critical for some students and challenging to fund for school districts that supply them. Debates have raged nationally for decades about which foods to serve, whether to supply hot meals as well as cold, and how to entice kids to make better food choices in the lunch line.

First Lady Michelle Obama has made the fight to provide healthy meals in school her cornerstone initiative. Not surprisingly, Congress is eyeing that as a place to cut funding, once again increasing the difficulties faced by public schools. This week, Boston Public Schools laid out a plan to “cut cafeteria costs by reducing the variety and number of offerings…raising concerns among some parents and food service employees, who worry that students will not find anything they like to eat,” according to the Boston Globe. “The changes, scheduled to begin next month, affect more than 40 schools that that have served a wide variety of menu items.”

“One of the biggest changes will occur at breakfast,” the article continued. “No longer will cafeterias offer both a hot and cold breakfast option most mornings. Instead, hot items will be limited to twice a week, and on some mornings, students will receive just a bowl of Cocoa Puffs—a new menu item billed as ‘vegetarian’—and two pieces of fruit.”

While sugared cereal isn’t usually labeled as vegetarian, food definitions in this debate have over the years often gotten blurred, ranging from condiments being claimed as nutritional to potato lobbyists fighting to keep their starch firmly on the menu. There’s the battle over pizza, currently one of the most popular school menu items. According to an article last fall in the New York Times, “Schools purchase more than $450 million worth every year.” Before stricter guidelines, it was acceptable to “market pizza slices as a product containing grains, protein and a full serving of vegetables. This was thanks to a longstanding loophole: Rather than count the two tablespoons of tomato paste on a serving of pizza as two tablespoons of tomato paste, they could count it as eight tablespoons of tomatoes, the theory being that at some point before being processed, the two tablespoons had existed in the form of several whole tomatoes.”

To finish reading this article, click on this link: via “Vegetarian” Cocoa Puffs: Boston School Cafs on the Front Lines of the Food Wars – NPQ – Nonprofit Quarterly.

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