Letter to the Editor: Food Services Says Difficult to Adhere to 'Avoid Ingredients' List
School board made commitment to continue support of the nutrition initiative.
The school board has made a commitment to us, to continue to support the nutrition initiative. There have been ideas presented and explored that are not only budget-friendly, but easy to prepare. As Ann Cooper showed us, while the initial start-up cost was higher, eventually participation will increase and the food service will become self-sustainable, I believe she said by year 3. Currently Chef Ann is at a 5% increase in participation, which is over a 100% increase from the year before, and is 100% operationally self sustainable. Contrary to what has been said recently by the food service director, the funds that have been raised have only been used to pay back the community for the central kitchens and some change in supplies.
It is hard to understand why there continues to be such resistance to this important change, even after it has been shown that it can be done. In researching, I had found that many schools receive rebates or “kickbacks” from many companies including Frito lay and Jennio processed turkey products (both companies are companies we purchase from). Given the fact that the foods associated with these rebates are foods that are often highly processed or foods of minimal nutritional value, (which are also foods that we have recently eliminated), leaves us with the question: is the reason for the dramatic loss of revenue due in part to the loss of these rebates? Is that the reason Food Services is saying it's too difficult to adhere to the "avoid ingredients" list?
With only Food Service being completely knowledgeable about all of the line items of the financial statements, how are we to know what's really the reason for the loss?
The NIS has been unfairly criticized and attacked from its inception; backlash mainly from Food Services. Our goal has only been to try and find ways to bring more nutritional foods to the kids... and the School Board claims to be committed to this as well. If that is the case, I implore you to do your due diligence and before blaming this initiative for the loss, look at the financials and assess on your own, and ask the questions about the contracts that we currently have and whether rebates are part of them. I would like an answer to the following question tonight….have we ever accepted rebates from companies for food products, and if we have, are we now not getting those rebates that may account for some of the loss of revenue? If so, are we willing to acknowledge this conflict of interest that not only goes against what the NIS stands for, but what we as Upper Dublin stands for in serving our children as well?
Thanks again for your interest!