USDA

Last week this blog was devoted to discussing Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller’s first act in office –  a declaration of “cupcake amnesty” – as well as his plan to bring deep fat fryers and sodas back to our public schools. As I explained here and in a Houston Chronicle op-ed on Friday, since 2005 Texas state law […]

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My Houston Chronicle Op-Ed Re: Texas “Cupcake Amnesty”

by Bettina Elias Siegel on January 16, 2015

After cross-posting my piece earlier this week about the new Texas Agriculture Commissioner declaring “cupcake amnesty,” the Houston Chronicle asked if I’d be willing to write an editorial about it for today’s paper.  I agreed, and in today’s piece I look at whether Texas taxpayers might have to pay a stiff price for Commissioner Miller’s political grandstanding.  Thanks to the Chronicle […]

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My Interview With USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon

by Bettina Elias Siegel on January 7, 2015

Back in November, I was contacted by a Public Affairs Specialist at USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services asking me if I’d like to conduct a 15-minute phone interview with USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon.  Given that Mr. Concannon’s job includes overseeing federal child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program, I was very excited to take advantage […]

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The McDonald’s corporation has lately fallen on hard times, enduring seven straight months of declining domestic sales, a food safety scandal involving its Chinese meat supplier, politically motivated restaurant closures in Russia, even a Consumer Reports survey ranking its burgers as the “worst in America.” So on a December 10th conference call, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson and […]

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USDA Announces $5 Million in Farm-to-School Grants

by Bettina Elias Siegel on December 3, 2014

As the political wrangling over weakening school nutrition standards continues in Congress, here’s some nice school food news to share:  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday that the USDA will be providing school districts with over $5 million in grants for “82 projects spanning 42 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands that support . . . efforts to connect […]

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#Thanks4RealMichelleObama

by Bettina Elias Siegel on November 24, 2014

You may have already heard about a new Twitter hashtag that’s making national news: disgruntled kids are taking photos of their unappetizing school lunches and sharing them on Twitter with a sarcastic #thanksmichelleobama.  A recent Buzz Feed post about the trend has already received an astonishing two million views. Some of the photos shared by students are indeed stomach-turning. […]

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In August, 2013, the USDA made the controversial announcement that it will allow four Chinese facilities to process poultry raised in the U.S., Canada or Chile and then export that cooked chicken back to the United States.  This development was deeply troubling to many advocates due to China’s terrible food safety record and the fact that (by the admission of one of its own officials) China’s food […]

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Standing Up for Citizen Journalism

by Bettina Elias Siegel on September 29, 2014

Back in July, many of you saw an Associated Press story which reported that “[s]everal food writers, including a New York Times reporter, have been subpoenaed by a meat producer as part of its $1.2 billion defamation lawsuit against ABC in regards to the network’s coverage of a beef product dubbed ‘pink slime’ by critics.” Because of my successful […]

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Invoking the Cherished Bake Sale to Undermine the Smart Snacks Rules

by Bettina Elias Siegel on September 11, 2014

Back in November, 2010, only a few months after starting The Lunch Tray, I wrote about running my children’s elementary school Election Day bake sale.  In that post I expressed a little bit of ambivalence about selling sweets to raise money  — ambivalence that would evolve over the next four years into outright activism against junk food in schools  —  but at the […]

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When the “Smart Snacks in School” rules went into effect on the first of this month, it was good news for the health of school children. These rules, which were mandated by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, represent the first significant federal effort to regulate “competitive food,” i.e., the foods and drinks sold to kids during the school day through outlets […]

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