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NIS BLOG: Defining Policy

Upper Dublin Wellness Policy needs to be enforced

What is the definition of a policy?  The set of basic principles and associated guidelines, formulated and enforced by the governing body of an organization, to direct and limit its actions in pursuit of long term goals

After two hours of listening to and discussing Food service issues at the September 10th Upper Dublin School Board meeting, the question still remained, “why isn’t the Wellness Policy being followed?” It seemed that with charts that were not proportioned properly, red boxed items to highlight the newest so called problematic additions to the policy, and the continued attempt to convince the school board that this is unreasonable, everyone was left tired and confused. 

Of course the issue that came up the most was the “avoid” ingredient list. (see last blog post for explanation of the history of this list)  Even though the policy states that we are trying to eliminate these ingredients, new foods or changed existing foods now contain the “avoid” ingredients. Why?  There were reasons given like lack of availability of product, or higher cost, but again no documentation to support this.  An example of this was the meatballs. They were changed from last year and unbeknownst to us, now contain an “avoid” ingredient - “partially hydrogenated oils” which is another name for transfats.  Transfats have been found to have an adverse effect on cardiovascular health.  Here are the specifics:  The FDA ruled that a product needs to label the amount of  transfat, BUT only if it is more than .5 grams.  Having more than 2 grams of transfats a day is not recommended. Here is what the American Heart Association says:

The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of trans fats you eat to less than 1 percent of your total daily calories. That means if you need 2,000 calories a day, no more than 20 of those calories should come from trans fats. That’s less than 2 grams of trans fats a day. Given the amount of naturally occurring trans fats you probably eat every day, this leaves virtually no room at all for industrially manufactured trans fats.

To say that “the meatballs are OK because they have a trace amount of transfats, and it says 0 grams of trans fats on the label” (government requirement) is incomprehensible.  If you read the above, you can see the problem with that statement, as nobody knows how much is in the food unless it is over .5 g.  If the meatballs have .5 g per serving, 4 servings would give the maximum amount for the day, and as the American Heart Association says, “there are naturally occurring transfats that we consume every day, there is no room for industrial manufactured transfats.”

This was just one of the changed products. It has been discovered that there are other foods that contain “avoid “ ingredients.  The worst part about this is that it presents a trust issue.  If we have a policy that states these ingredients should be avoided, it is implied that none of the foods on the school menus will have these ingredients.  As the definition of policy states, these rules need to be enforced, as what is the benefit of having any policy if it is not going to be followed?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Stacey Margo September 14, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Thank you for shedding light on the truth. Sitting in on that meeting was tiring...don't they get tired just hearing the lies and discrepancies from their own mouths? Patti said she demanded Mickey's take out the trans fat from the pizza, yet not 5 minutes before, Melissa stated that it was okay to have unlimited numbers of trans fat per day. So confusing, given that they work on the same team...shouldn't they get their information straight? The fact that they continue to lie and deceive parents is just incredulous. To not follow policy, continue to serve foods that contain ingredients from the "avoids lists"...at what point is enough enough? People continue to knock the NIS but do they realize that Food Services is going against mandated Board Policy?
LancerRM September 14, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Why doesn't the Board and Dr. Pladus have a problem with what has been going on, and what is going against their wellness policy? Maybe you should be asking them. It might help to know what the new gov't standards are as compared to what the NIS is looking for, this way people might not be so critical of the NIS. There is nothing wrong with wanted to have something that is better than what the gov't. wants either. One of these days, I would love for you to get Dr. Pladus to explain in front of the public at a Board meeting and not just sit there and say nothing (especially when you question and attack the food service people). Why doesn't the Board ask Dr. Pladus what the problem are??? Because they don't care as much as you think...
Don M September 14, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Please explain some logic here: (contrary to your earlier claim that this change did not result in losses) Mrs. Bray noted that the district had $100,000 less in food sales following the menu change resulting in a $151,000 loss. If a 'small' change (which I imply from your previous posts were you claim we haven't gone far enough) has resulted in $100,000 less in food sales, how will being MORE stringent NOT result in even greater lost revenue? You see, people like to make their own choices and in this case that is exactly what they did: they packed lunch. Or, worse, kids dumped uneaten food into the trash because they don't like it and have gone hungry (which is TRUE and VERIFIABLE, I have inquired with an actual lunch aid). In any case, people don't like what these changes have brought so what rationale is there to continue this program? This is simply wasteful. I'd rather see $151,000 in net losses go toward rennovations to a library or a garden or educational programs than to see it end up in the trash barrel which is where the prepared food that no one is eating is going. Lancer, I think Dr. Pladdus is taking a very rational approach (unlike his support for the turf field) by saying that we need to do what is right by the children but doing so while watching our bottom line.
Joe September 14, 2012 at 09:47 PM
@Don M: RATIONAL, COGENT AND TRUE!!! WELL SAID.
Jill Florin September 15, 2012 at 12:07 AM
HI Don: Thank you very much for your comment. To clarify, I did not say that the change did not result in losses, nor did I say it did, I said that we did not have any documentation to support either position. At the board meeting what was shown, again was not enough of a picture to really make a judgement call. Here is what we found out. The two places that the district lost the most money was in catering (nothing to do with the initiative as Dr. Pladus confirmed) and a la carte sales. To explain, a la carte sales are sales that are not considered reimbursable meals. Reimbursable meals are where most of the changes were made last year. Surprisingly, for the first time in many years reimbursable meals seemed to be relatively steady, where in the past there had been constant declines. A la carte is where we need more information. As discussed, the sushi (part of the nutrition initiative) has done very well, but we only got a total revenue amount, not a profit amount, so still do not know exactly how well it has done. There was no more information on what the dramatic loss was in a la carte items, so the jury is still out on that. The so called waste that you are speaking of, if it is really occuring, would be from the reimbursable meals , and as I said, that figure was relatively the same as last year, so was there really that much waste? As for your comments regarding the relevance or importance, anything that is for the better health of the kids is important.
Don M September 15, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Ms. Florin, perhaps you might be able to address Ms. Bray's statement that $100,000 in lower food sales was a result of the menu change. Your initiative is the reason for the menu change. It is also a fact that the district is losing money because of these changes. If we are losing money that could otherwise be going toward more effective, efficient programs I contend we are not doing right by the children. Do you really believe that $151,000 is better spent on a declining nutritional program over new books, computers and other resources that would be appreciated by ALL children? A la carte, as I understand, is the alternative to entrees. Many people are purchsing your entrees (reimburseable meals) because they are on the free or reduced lunch program. A la carte is in decline, according to Ms. Bray, because choice selection dropped from some 90 items to below 25 (I can't specifically recall the numbers). I suspect you'd like to see that drop even more due to your strict standards. If that selection declines further do you think that will add to or subtract from food sales??? Where does this end, Ms. Florin? How much more money do you expect the district to lose before it is cancelled completely? And, I too would like to see that profit margin on the sushi though it's only fitting given the palace the kids have to eat within.
Jill Florin September 15, 2012 at 02:24 AM
I guess being nice does not work with some people. It is great to use words to say things like the $100,000 decline is due to a menu change, but until we actually see the detailed information, it is not right to just assume this is true, There has been no detailed information, just words that for some reason everyone seems to believe is true. I do not appreciate your tone Mr. M, as it is not deserved. Trying to do things for the greater good does not deserve to be attacked as you are doing. If you want to talk money, since it seems that this is all that matters, I am sure you will be complaining in the not so distant future when your Health insurance is through the roof because of the diseases that need to be treated for kids that could have been prevented if only there was an honest effort to do so. It was not Ms. Bray who mentioned the drop of items in the a la carte, it was Ms. Dellaringa, and without any information to back that up. Again, all words. Nobody is saying that the district should lose $100,000, but knowing the real reasons backed by factual information would help verus jumping to unwarrented conclusions. You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but acting like I am the cause of this loss is extremely unreasonable. It takes more than one person with an initiative to lose that much money, ask to see all the information and then we can talk.
Stacey Margo September 15, 2012 at 04:39 AM
I'm not sure why you, Don, are so adamantly excited about this initiative to fail. That seems peculiar to me. Almost like you have your own agenda? Regardless, and as I've stated before, you see things as you want to see things. Just because a budget is presented, does not mean it is the true numbers being shown. Nor was there anything that indicated the healthier items from last year were to blame--though that is what you'd like to believe. While a loss was shown, it was said to have been because of catering and a la carte items--as Jill stated above. Stop blaming NIS for this and every other gripe you have with life. If you have a question for Dr Pladus and Ms Bray, feel free to ask it yourself. We have done--and are continuing to do our research. We continue to search for the truth behind every deception and will continue to find ways to keep all children healthy...whether you like it or not. Remember, UD nutrition is not about profit; it's about the well-being of the children. There is no other agenda. I'm not sorry you have a problem with that. I am sorry that other people have to listen to you whine and complain and do nothing to help the cause. No one is asking to you to help; in fact, no one wants your help. You cause more trouble than any help you could possibly offer. But if you can't help, at least don't hurt those trying to make a positive impact on our kids.
Joe September 15, 2012 at 07:48 AM
That's it, attack the messanger. @ Ms Florin: if it walks like a duck,..... It is obvious the decline in sales and losses is due to the change in menu. You don't need more detailed information. You will keep finding reasons to disbelieve the obvious and hope it goes away. As True Believers, you find it hard that others cannot hold your beliefs, it's so obvious. But it's not. Don has been very polite and clear in his opposition, yet you attack him. I won't be as polite, Stay the F+++ out of our lives. Pack you spoiled bratty kids theire own meal. Just GTFA!!! Thanks.
Don M September 15, 2012 at 10:26 AM
Mr. Florin, I agree with you completely: we need accuracy, transparency and accountability from our district in all cases. If $100,000 in lower sales is not accurate that is dishonest and they are intentionally withholding information we have the right to know. Ms. Bray and Dr. Pladdus must have seen or have access to this data and to allow any discussion around those numbers without refute would imply their endorsement thereof. Hold them accountable for providing real facts and figures.
Don M September 15, 2012 at 10:28 AM
Ladies, how have I not been respectful in this discussion? To accuse someone of attack in an honest debate is shameful and immature. My motives are very much in line with what Dr. Pladdus stated: to support what is in the best interest of the kids while watching the bottom line. The district simply cannot ignore the bottom line; just as your household (and mine) must stretch the dollar it does have limitations. This is the fundamental mistake of people's expectation of government: money is endless for any and all special needs of it citizens and to make up for their own shortcomings. You are upset because I'm using the same argument against you that you use against others who do not support your mission: if you don't agree with my position you must be against children. You can't have it both ways. Perhaps you want to re-read what you accused me and others of in previous blog posts. Ironically, I support your goal of encouraging healthier lifestyles. My contention is with your methods as I've said repeatedly in the past. And, Ms. Applestein, I do intend on helping by offering an honest perspective on this matter you are not getting from your School Board directors who are obviously conflicted between their own emotions on this subject and numbers which are troubling.
Jill Florin September 15, 2012 at 01:00 PM
@DonM-If you can tell me a way to get all of hte information, I will certainly do it. Right to know requests have been submitted, and still not ALL of the information has been recieved. As was asked at the board meeting by a schol board member "does the advisoy committee make decisions based on cost as well as nutritional value of the foods?" I can answer that question, "NO" because not once did we ever see the cost of any items, and were lead to believe in some cases that there was no difference in cost. So you see, it is not that we do not want to take cost into cosideraion, we are never given the information to make decisions that would be not only healthful, but also help to address the bottom line. This then makes it look like we do not care about the bottom line, which is absolutely another inaccuracy.
Don M September 15, 2012 at 01:22 PM
I'm not sure how your committee is set up or what its procedures and rules for sharing this information are so I can't help you there but I am very much in favor of knowing whether the data being supplied is accurate. The Right to Know Act appears to be fairly straightforward and gives the district five business days to reply with an answer, denial of the request or a 30-day extension to comply... http://www.udsd.org/uploaded/documents/Jason_T/Katie_Braun/rtkcitizensguidefinal.pdf Did you ever receive a response of any kind? This would have to be submitted to the district, not to a committee.
Jill Florin September 15, 2012 at 02:12 PM
the Right to Know reqest was submitted to the district in accordance with the proper procedures. Only after multiple requests was information finally supplied, but it was not ALL of the information requested. Yes, you are correct that it is supposed to be within 5 business days of the request, that never happened. Some of the information that we did recieve was contradictory to what had been verbally stated during presentations to board members and other task force committees by food service.
Stacey Margo September 15, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Don, I apologize for the harshness of my last comment. To say I'm frustrated is an understatement at best. I'm so tired of hearing that the NIS is to blame for all the failures and the loss of the bottom line. The fact is that the budget shown was just a bunch of numbers disguised in a pretty chart...with no backup. There was no clarification or justification of catering losses; there was not one single explanation of rebates. All we want is the truth. Tell us the truth and let us make decisions and solutions from there.
Jill Florin September 16, 2012 at 07:38 PM
an FYI.... **Media Advisory for September 25, 2012** Junk Food Sold at School Called A National Security Threat New Report Shows Shocking Amount of Junk Food Sold in U.S. Schools, Retired Military Leaders Call for Stronger Federal Nutrition Standards Background: Calling childhood obesity a threat to national security, retired generals and admirals who are members of the national security organization Mission: Readiness will issue a new report showing that a shocking amount of junk food is sold in U.S. schools each year and the availability of so much junk food undermines efforts by parents and schools to teach children to eat healthier meals and snacks. Noting that many children get as much as half their daily calories at school, the report focuses on the need to remove junk foods from schools and urges the federal government to update decades-old standards for foods sold in school vending machines, à la carte lines and snack bars. The new report, Still Too Fat to Fight, reinforces recent recommendations by the Institute of Medicine, which call for making the school environment a focal point for addressing our nation’s obesity crisis. Mission: Readiness leaders also will discuss alarming trends that affect our national security, including that 75 percent of 17- to 24-year olds in the U.S. cannot serve in the military. Being overweight is the number one medical reason why they cannot enlist—1 in 4 young adults is too overweight to join the military.
Stacey Margo September 17, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Jill, just heard the best, most heart-warming quote: "Why are we doing this, if not for the kids?" We should all (NIS, Board, Food Services, etc) be asking ourselves this each and every time a decision is made...why else are we working in this industry if not for the betterment of our children? If this is not our very commitment at each and every step, then get out now; you are clearly in the wrong business!
UD Mom September 17, 2012 at 02:46 AM
I just wanted to thank NIS for working hard (on a volunteer basis) to try and get answers and help give the kids healthier more nutritious foods at school. This is an important issue for many people and for good reason considering the health problems that are very much becomes a reality in our country. I realize the financial implications are real, but I think they can be overcome with all the facts on the table. I just hope these facts are made available soon...
Donna September 17, 2012 at 11:56 AM
With all due respect, I have been following the comments for this blog and I fnd it silly that you two women have to pat each other on the back and promote each other to each other. Looking at this from afar, it looks so silly and inane. It looks so scripted, that your credibilty is in danger. You two workd together on this, you don't speak unless it is in this fromat???

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