As students head back to school, school meal challenges continue (supply chain issues, staffing, need to charge for meals, school meal debt) but as always, school districts find ways to pivot. Gaining traction: salvage groceries (to address food costs) and indoor farming (with droughts increasing). And lastly, continuing concerns about new viruses means we should be prepared to answer: Is our food/food packaging safe to eat?
School Nutrition Association Supply Chain July 2022 Report: the 25-page report includes feedback from different perspectives (https://schoolnutrition.org/resource/2022-supply-chain-report-staying-afloat-in-a-perfect-storm/). School districts faced with staff shortages hire high schoolers (https://www.nbcnews.com/business/economy/short-staffed-school-districts-are-hiring-students-serve-lunch-rcna44905). How 1 district reintroduced peanut butter to address supply chain issues and the strategies they used to make the reintroduction work, especially for those with peanut allergies (https://www.k12dive.com/news/how-a-florida-district-reintroduced-peanut-butter-after-an-18-year-absence/621453/). Sample price increases for school meal items for 1 Arizona school district – increases from 1 year ago range from 9% to 24%; addressing price increases has meant finding local farm sources; bread from scratch; growing produce (https://time.com/6205868/school-meal-prices-rising-inflation/). Added sugars in school meals: the standard school meals follow – meals and snacks: no more than 10% of calories from added sugars. The report found 92% of breakfasts had 10% or more calories from added sugars; 69% of schools served lunches with 10% or more calories from added sugars; flavored fat-free chocolate milk provided 29% of the added sugars for breakfast and 47% for lunch
(https://www.foodpolitics.com/2022/08/sugar-in-school-meals-lots/); the 17-page report (https://fns-prod.azureedge.us/sites/default/files/resource-files/AddedSugarsinSchoolMeals.pdf). California, and Maine provide free universal school meals statewide (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2022/08/12/california-schools-students-free-breakfast-lunch/10308587002/). 28 groups call for availability of soy milk in school lunches – a doctor’s note is now required (https://thehill.com/homenews/3594330-civil-rights-groups-including-al-sharpton-led-organization-urge-usda-to-fix-dietary-racism-in-school-lunch-programs/). Sorghum now available in school meals (https://www.tastingtable.com/934823/why-sorghum-is-about-to-be-used-in-us-school-lunch-programs/). Increasing plant-based foods in school meals (https://www.k12dive.com/news/efforts-growing-to-help-schools-serve-plant-based-meals/629194/).
Salvage groceries and inflation (https://www.tastingtable.com/967393/salvaged-groceries-are-an-underrated-answer-to-food-inflation/). Salvage food info including safety tips (https://www.buysalvagefood.com/) and stores by state (https://www.buysalvagefood.com/salvage-grocer-map.html). FDA salvage/donated food guidance (https://www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/surplus-salvaged-and-donated-foods).
Growers concerned about water availability and its impact on their business (https://www.thepacker.com/news/sustainability/water-issues-loom-large-growers). Can indoor farming help drought-stricken areas? Vertical farms use 95% less water than traditional farms (https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2022/08/15/technology-can-help-farmers-survive-the-water-crisis-in-the-west/). Indoor farming’s future: startup costs are a challenge (https://www.fooddive.com/news/indoor-farming-to-reach-an-estimated-1556b-by-2026-pitchbook/620925/).
The next virus and food safety:
COVID led to food/food packaging questions so it’s no wonder that some may now be asking: What is the risk of getting monkeypox from food or food packaging? 2 food safety specialists address this in less than 11 minutes (https://www.riskyornot.co/episodes/343-monkeypox-in-food-and-on-food-packaging); (https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/risky-or-not/343-monkeypox-in-food-and-on-BGp23QlX8xE/).