USDA

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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“Copycat” Junk Food in Schools – Why Is Anyone Surprised?

by Bettina Elias Siegel on July 21, 2014

I couldn’t make it to last week’s School Nutrition Association (SNA) annual national conference (ANC) in Boston, but I closely followed reports coming out of the convention via Twitter and other social media. And one common refrain from some food advocates and reporters in attendance was surprise and concern over the glut of junk food promoted by some food manufacturers at […]

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Reports of Initial Progress in School Meal Talks

by Bettina Elias Siegel on July 11, 2014

Today’s Politico Morning Agriculture Report says “[p]olitics stayed out of the room [Thursday] when USDA brought together school nutrition and health groups to hash out school lunch regulatory concerns, say sources who participated in the meeting.”  The full story is on paywall-protected Politico Pro but you can read the Morning Ag summary of the story here. My own […]

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Moms, “Food Fears” and the Power of the Internet

by Bettina Elias Siegel on July 8, 2014

Dr. Brian Wansink, a professor of consumer behavior at Cornell University and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, has published a new study in the journal Food Quality and Preference entitled “Ingredient-Based Food Fears and Avoidance: Antecedents and Antidotes.”  This study, co-authored by Aner Tal and Adam Brumberg, seeks to determine why people – mothers in particular — develop so-called “food fears” about […]

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