a la carte

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 […]


No Tater Tots for The Poor Kids: Socioeconomic Stigma In The Lunchroom

by Bettina Elias Siegel on November 13, 2012

A few weeks ago, in the midst of the intense backlash against the new, healthier school food regulations, I received a reader comment on The Lunch Tray’s Facebook page that I’ve been meaning to share with you.   The reader describes how her school district took less healthful items off the lunch menu, which most of […]


Schools Ban Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, But Why Stop There?

by Bettina Elias Siegel on October 19, 2012

On my Houston ISD school food blog, The Spork Report, I once shared a candid photo of a Houston middle schooler’s “lunch:”  a bag of  Baked Flamin’ Hot Cheetos doused in cheesy nacho sauce:   Both of those items were purchased by the student from one of my district’s cafeteria a la carte lines (to be […]


On both this blog and The Spork Report, I’ve written extensively about “competitive foods,” i.e., the food and beverages sold on school campuses in competition with the federal school meal, through outlets like vending machines, snack bars, and cafeteria “a la carte” lines.   In many school districts, including here in Houston ISD, these offerings […]


I was recently in touch with a mom who works regularly in the school store at her kids’ high school.  The store sells some of the worst junk foods — Funyuns, candy, sodas, etc. — which she often sees the kids grabbing in large quantities for breakfast or lunch.  But one of the ways the […]


As many of you know, I’ve long been concerned about the quality of the so-called “a la carte” items sold by my district, Houston ISD (the nation’s seventh largest) in its cafeterias and snack bar lines. These foods, offered in direct competition with the federally reimbursable meal and sold only to turn a profit, tend […]