Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cafeteria Trends for New School Year

It's time again to wrap those textbooks in brightly-patterned spandex book covers, sharpen some pencils and pop some fresh batteries in that calculator. Before we send kids out the door with some lunch money, take a look at some of the new trends in school cafeterias across America. This is from an article from one of my favorite blogs on school food policy.

  • Syrup-infused pancakes, waffles, etc. in plastic packages that you can "safely" put in the oven.

  • Mini burgers, hot dogs, cereals and the like.

  • Cheese-covered bread in various forms (think pizza, quesadillas, pizza quesadillas, cheesy bread-sticks, and chili cheese wraps).

  • Salty snacks such as buffalo wing, chipotle cheddar, honey mustard pretzels, stuffed churros, super pretzels and soft pretzels.

  • Sugary milks in new flavors such as extreme chocolate, rootbeer, mocha, hot fudge, and mint chocoloate.

Maybe they'd be better off packing a turkey sandwich with veggie sticks...

Every summer, the School Nutrition Association’s hosts a food expo, showcasing all sorts of new products to use those commodity dollars on. Here are some particularly disgusting new "foods":

  • Clodhoppers, cocoa-covered graham wafer clusters, which does count as one USDA serving of a bread or grain. It’s “great for breakfast, lunch or after school!”

  • Giorgio Foods' new Cheese Stikcs, which asks you to “pledge allegiance to breaded American cheese." I'm not even joking. And guess what? They are breaded American cheese. Again, I'm not even joking. Not a little bit.

  • The Crazy Apple! A company has developed apples that taste like bubble gum, cotton candy and tropical blast. I wasn't aware that apples tasted that bad... especially if you're picking GOOD apples.

  • If you like the idea of sweetened, colored fruit, the United Commodity Group will process those apples and turn them into flavored applesauce. The neon-green “Super Sour Apple” is made of apples, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavor, FD&C Yellow #5 and Blue #1, and Vitamin C. And sadly, that counts as one serving of fruit for school lunches.

  • Polish Water Ice (see image above) claims that its product has no fat, no dairy, no cholesterol, no peanut oil and fewer than 140 calories. It does contain: water, apple juice concentrate, cane sugar, corn syrup, natural and artificial flavor, guar gum, carbohydrate gum, locust bean gum, citric acid and FD&C Red #40. Yep, you guessed it- that counts as half of the required fruit and vegetables for meals. Do you see that thing?

  • And last but not least, why bother making pancakes and eggs as separate breakfast dishes? No need! Schools can now buy heat-and-serve “Maple PanEggCakes,” which is an egg patty that is nestled inside a maple-flavored, whole-grain pancake. Seriously? Whole grain? Who are you kidding?

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