a la carte

A School Nutrition Director Gives Me a Wake-Up Call

by Bettina Elias Siegel on October 23, 2014

Yesterday I attended a Houston ISD Nutrition Services Parent Advisory Committee meeting, something I’ve done almost every month during the school year for the last four and a half years.  And while I sat through the various presentations, I reflected on how much my feelings about school food professionals have changed since I walked into my first PAC […]


Atomic Cheez-Its: The Whole Grain Loophole in the Smart Snacks Rules

by Bettina Elias Siegel on October 16, 2014

The new Smart Snacks rules require that snacks sold during the school day must be a fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein food, or be whole-grain rich.  That sounds great on paper, right? But we’ve discussed before on TLT how that “whole-grain rich” opening allows food manufacturers to keep highly processed snack foods and cereals front and center […]


More on the School Nutrition Association’s Ties to Big Food

by Bettina Elias Siegel on June 11, 2014

In earlier posts discussing the School Nutrition Association’s push to roll back healthier school meal standards, I’ve noted that the organization receives significant funding from corporate “patrons” such as ConAgra, Kraft and PepsiCo. Yesterday the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) AgMag Blog offered a much closer look at those corporate ties, as well as the role […]

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Earlier this month, a school district in suburban Chicago made news when it announced its plan to opt out of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), forgoing $900,000 a year in federal funds. David Schuler, superintendent of Township High School District 214, made a sympathetic case for the district’s decision, telling public radio’s Here and […]


Well, We Saw This Coming

by Bettina Elias Siegel on May 13, 2014

Back in February, when I was asked to write a piece for Civil Eats on the state of school food, it became clear to me that some of the hard-won school food gains of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act are now in jeopardy.  With reports of decreased student participation in meal programs and trash cans full […]


Starting in 2014-15, two significant changes will be coming to school cafeterias.  First, under the new “Smart Snacks in School” rules, we should see a big improvement in the nutritional content of snack foods and beverages sold to students from outlets like vending machines, fundraising tables and “a la carte” snack bar lines.  Another, less-talked-about change […]


As I told you last week on this blog’s Facebook page, the USDA has released its interim final rules for “competitive” foods and beverages offered on school campuses.  But I didn’t want to share this news here on the blog until I’d taken some time to parse through the new rules so I could share […]


I’m Profiled Today in Beyond Chron!

by Bettina Elias Siegel on April 29, 2013

As you may know from the many times I link to her writing on TLT’s Facebook page, Dana Woldow of PEACHSF (Parents, Educators & Advocates Connect ion for Healthy School Food) writes a regular and informative column in Beyond Chron, an online daily in San Francisco, in which she tackles all manner of food-related topics, […]


My Own Letter to USDA re: The Competitive School Food Rules

by Bettina Elias Siegel on April 9, 2013

Well, nothing like waiting until the last minute. As I’ve been telling you all repeatedly, USDA’s deadline for submitting comments on the proposed competitive school food rules is 11:59 tonight, but I only just finished writing my own letter this morning!   I thought you all might be interested in reading my letter, the text of […]


The Time Is NOW to Tell USDA We Want Junk Food Out of Schools

by Bettina Elias Siegel on April 8, 2013

I wanted to remind TLT readers that midnight tomorrow, April 9th, marks the end of USDA’s public comment period on its proposed  “competitive” school food rules. For those needing a refresher, “competitive food” is food that competes with the federally subsidized breakfast and lunch programs.  We’re talking about the snack foods and beverages offered on school […]