Category Archives: Uncategorized

Movement Toward In-House Food Service?

In 2016 after conducting a comprehensive study, the DC City Auditor recommended that DCPS should manage its own school food program rather than contracting it out to a company like SodexoMAGIC.

How are plans coming to move in that direction, DCPS OFNS?

City Council, will you rubber stamp a contract renewal for SodexoMAGIC this summer, or would you like to save millions of dollars and provide DC’s kids with better food?

The community is interested in these decisions and plans. Please let us know!

What do YOU want school meals to look like?

The USDA has begun accepting comments on two related school food issues:

(1)  whether schools should have “flexibility” with things like serving whole grains, and

(2) what should count as part of each school meal (also called “food crediting”).

The comment process is a little intimidating, but the links provided above make it easier and provide full context for all the issues under consideration.

Parents of students who are vegans or vegetarians might be particularly interested in the second comment opportunity, since the USDA is weighing whether things like “lentil pasta” should count as a meat alternative on its own.

And as always, the public comment period is an excellent chance to let the government know what you think about MILK in school meals.  The #1 comment we hear when we visit with parents, teachers, and students is that they’re sickened by how much milk is poured down the drain each day.  What most people don’t realize is that the National Dairy Council works very hard to make sure that milk is served in these large quantities.  Since the dairy industry is concerned only about the sale of milk to the government, they don’t care if it gets consumed or poured down the drain.

Further, dairy is now often mixed with sugar in products like yogurt and chocolate milk, and anybody who has seen the movie Fed Up knows what a disaster sugar is for our kids.  This comment period is a good time to let the USDA know whether you think sugar should be limited in school meals.

Food crediting comments are accepted until February 12, 2018.

Comments on “flexibility” on nutrition guidelines in schools are accepted until January 29, 2018.

Let your voice be heard!

 

 

 

Next Meeting: Sept 23 @ Noon!

Join us at our next meeting
at NOON on SEPTEMBER 23
at Tyler Elementary (1001 G ST SE)

Please join us at Tyler Elementary on Saturday, September 23 at noon for the next meeting of the DC School Food Project!  Please RSVP to dcschoolfoodproject@gmail.com and spread the word far and wide!  If you know of anybody — a parent, a teacher, a student, a food service worker, a health advocate, an anti-hunger warrior, a businessperson, or anybody else who might be interested, please invite them along.

At the meeting we will prioritize our agenda for moving forward, including:

  • hosting no-cost monthly wellness workshops to support community health education
  • advocating for the integration of FoodPrints recipes in the school meal rotation
  • supporting the community push to participate in the Good Food Purchasing Program
  • making good on the Healthy Schools Act mandate to create a central kitchen facility
  • preparing for the DC City Council hearing on November 16

We also have a number of specific jobs and positions within the organization to divvy up, including some social media workoutreach in the schoolsliaising with Councilbridging to DCPS, and more.

We hope to see you on the 23rd!  There’s much to be done.

Find us:

Twitter:         DC School Food Project @GreatSchoolFood

Email:             dcschoolfoodproject@gmail.com

Facebook:    DC School Food Project

Web:                www.dcschoolfoodproject.org

What is a Good Food Procurement Program?

The Oakland, California Unified School District recently made news by adopting a Good Food Procurement Program (GFPP).  What is this?

The Center for Good Food Purchasing explains that a GFPP is a tool that helps public institutions (like schools) contribute to and benefit from a healthy food system.  This is important in cities like Washington, DC, which spend millions of dollars on food purchases each year.

The five core values of a GFPP are local economies, health, valued workforce, animal welfare, and environmental sustainability.  The rights of workers, the sustainability of farming practices, and the value of whole, unprocessed foods for our kids are prioritized with a program like this.  School districts that adopt a GFPP seek to promote health and well-being by offering generous portions of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and minimally processed foods, while reducing salt, added sugars, saturated fats, and red meat consumption, and eliminating artificial additives.

What does any of this have to do with DC?  The city is currently considering the nomination of Antwan Wilson for the position of Chancellor of DC Public Schools.  Mr. Wilson most recently served as Superintendent of what school district?  Oakland Unified.  We’d like to reach out to the DC City Council and to Mr. Wilson himself to let them know that the values of a Good Food Purchasing Program are values we support.

If you are interested in providing input into Mr. Wilson’s confirmation process, consider reaching out to the Committee on Education, which is holding roundtables on the issue.  The next roundtable is December 8, 2016.  If you wish to testify in person, you may sign-up online at http://bit.do/educationhearings. The witness list will close for each roundtable 24-hours prior to the start of the roundtable. You are encouraged, but not required, to submit 10 copies of your written testimony at the roundtable. If you are speaking on your own behalf, you should limit your testimony to three minutes; if you are representing an organization, you should limit your testimony to five minutes (unless there are multiple people representing the same organization).

If you are unable to testify at the hearing, written statements can be submitted by 5 pm on December 12, 2016, and will be made a part of the official record. Written statements can be submitted via email to jgiles@dccouncil.us or mailed to:

Committee on Education
Council of the District of Columbia, Suite 116
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004

Here’s to GOOD FOOD!

September 7: Sustainable Food Procurement

 

Washington DC’s City Council passed legislation to create the DC Food Policy Council in 2014.  This Food Policy Council is meant to:
The Food Policy Council met for the first time last month and the Councilmembers identified “Sustainable Food Procurement” as one of their top priorities.  Further, the Sustainable Food Procurement Working Group identified SCHOOL FOOD as its top priority.
This is all great news for those who care about school food in the District!
Tomorrow, September 7 from 6-8PM at the Mt. Vernon Library (3160 16th Street NW), the Sustainable Procurement working group has invited the public to convene with six organizations to talk about the quality of food in our schools and the details of the contract with the new vendor.  They have invited:
  • DCPS
  • SodexoMagic
  • DC Central Kitchen
  • OSSE
  • DC Greens and DC Farm to School
  • and us, the DC School Food Project
Each organization will provide a brief statement answering the following questions:
  1. What do we wish more people knew about school food?
  2. What are our top goals for the coming school year?
  3. What can others in the room do to partner with us?
Following that, members of the public are able to ask questions.  This is where we need you!!  I hope you’ll be able to come out and participate.  We need to ask DCPS what standards of performance they will hold Sodexo to, what regularly (monthly) oversight reports they will share, what specific ways they will involve students and parents in the process.  Perhaps most importantly, we want to ask what they will do to increase participation and access, especially in wards where students are most in need.

“Questions may be submitted in advance to moore@dcbc.dc.gov (please include “School Food Questions” in the email title) or to @dcfoodpolicy on Twitter. They may also be written out on the index cards provided to the audience at the beginning of the meeting. Questions will be selected and read by Food Policy Council Members as time allows and the rest will be submitted to appropriate parties via email.”

The kids in DC deserve great school food, and they won’t get it unless we demand it!  We’ll see you on the 7th.
Find us:
Twitter:  DC School Food Project @GreatSchoolFood

Upcoming Meeting: August 11 @ 6:30pm at Tyler Elementary

Dear DC School Food Project Supporters,

Quick Version:  Please RSVP to come to our next meeting on August 11 at 6:30pm at Tyler Elementary in SE.
The Details:
We’ve got some good news to celebrate for the upcoming school year:  DC Central Kitchen has been awarded the contract for schools in Ward 7!  DCCK is an amazing organization with terrific food and this is a real win for the city.
If you’ve been on social media you may have also learned that the company Sodexo has been awarded the contract for the remaining 101 DC public schools.  Although this isn’t a win for us, we were successful in our call for a Council hearing on the issue, and three DC City Councilmembers including Charles Allen, Mary Cheh, and Elissa Silverman voted against the contract.  In their dissenting votes they articulated the concerns we have highlighted, so our messages are getting through.
What now?
It’s important that we maintain our momentum and keep moving forward.  As you know, the mission of our organization is to ensure quality, improve access, and inspire demand for healthy, tasty school food in our nation’s capital.  There are some concrete steps we can take in the weeks and months coming up to make this happen.
The first is, let’s get together.  We’ve secured space at Tyler Elementary (1001 G St SE, just off the Eastern Market Metro station)on Thursday, August 11 at 6:30pm.  Please RSVP to let us know if you can come, and spread the word far and wide!  If you know of anybody — a parent, a teacher, a student, a health advocate, an anti-hunger warrior, a businessperson, or anybody else who might be interested, please invite them along.  And also please forward this to your school listservs and other networks.  It would be great to increase participation from all wards.
At the meeting we will set our agenda for moving forward.  A few things that members have already mentioned as priorities include:
  • locking down details with Council for oversight of Sodexo and DCPS with monthly hearings,
  • brainstorming new models for food services,
  • encouraging DCPS to re-establish a regular Friends and Family Advisory Committee,
  • agitating for a new Food Services Director,
  • working to establish a mentoring program for small food service companies in DC to be able to bid effectively on DCPS RFPs, and
  • making good on the Healthy Schools Act mandate to create a central distribution site and move food services in-house.

This is not an exhaustive list, but we can work on the details together on in August.  We also have a number of specific jobs and positions to divvy up, including some social media work, outreach in the schools, liaising with Council, bridging to DCPS, and more.

We hope to see you on the 11th!  There’s much to be done.
With best regards and many thanks for the support you’ve already shown,
Ivy Ken
Find us:
Twitter:  DC School Food Project @GreatSchoolFood

Appeal to Council: Include Another Vendor

Earlier today we sent the following e-mail to Councilmember Grosso, the Chair of the Committee on Education, and to all DC City Councilmembers.  It does not outline a perfect solution, but it does move us past a truly horrible contract with Sodexo.

The e-mail recommends amending the contract in a way that would allow DCPS to offer one cluster to an amazing upstart company called Genuine Foods.  The text of the e-mail appears below.


Dear Councilmember Grosso,

On behalf of The DC School Food Project, I’d like to thank you for the thorough, detailed hearing you conducted this week on the DCPS/SodexoMagic contract.  You and the other Councilmembers asked the hard questions, and we in the community appreciate it.
My reading of the situation is that we are in quite a bind.  Everybody acknowledges that this contract is problematic.  Yet Council–understandably–feels constrained about what it can do at this stage.
Our preference is that the contract be disapproved.
Yet if that’s not possible, I think there is a palatable solution that might get us all closer to where we want to be.  I noticed in the hearing that you indicated that you are open to allowing DCPS to make some modifications to the contract.  Some of the language in the contract wasn’t clear or correct, and you asked Dr. Beers for a list of items that would have to be included before the vote on Tuesday, July 12.
If you’re open to modifications from DCPS, then I think the most important modification to require would be to bring in one more vendor to serve one cluster.  It is my understanding that Genuine Foods remains on the list as a qualified bidder.  I do not know (and have long been asking!) who any of the other bidders are.  But I am aware that this vendor published their proposal and BAFOs online.  Mr. Grosso, it’s a really amazing proposal, in my opinion.
Everything Council said it wanted at the hearing, Genuine Foods has:  It has five community partners; it already has an agreement with the Teamsters to honor their labor requirements; it already has a written plan for student engagement.  They are transparent — publishing even their prices online.  And Mr. Grosso, their per-meal prices are significantly less than Sodexo’s, even though they include much more robust standards such as working with local food providers, prioritizing staff training, and increasing participation in schools with the most vulnerable students.
DCPS could award one high-need cluster to Genuine Foods, and see how they do.  Right now, if Council approves the Sodexo contract and Sodexo violates the terms of its agreement, there is no vendor in place to step in who has been tested and worked within the system, other than DCCK (which has no desire to scale up) and Revolution Foods (which has not performed well in the District or elsewhere — see their many Notices to Cure, from as recently as 2014).  Quite simply, we need more breadth.  We need a deeper bench.  We need at least one more contractor in the mix.
Everybody agrees that DC Central Kitchen is sort of the Gold Standard in the school food game.  My reading of the situation is that Genuine Foods’ approach is a lot closer to DCCK than Sodexo is, by far.
If there are other qualified bidders who could take a cluster, they should be considered too.  But this is the easy route.  And I think it would be met with widespread approval.
Please let us know your thoughts.  We would like to see this happen.
Many thanks again,
Ivy Ken

Keep the Heat On: July 12 is coming

It’s not too late to get involved in the fight for better school food in the District.  Our elected City Council representatives will vote whether to approve or disapprove the proposed contract between DCPS and SodexoMagic on July 12.  We’ve got to keep the pressure on them for a vote to DISAPPROVE.Gerald Johnson Ken

On Wednesday, July 6, 2016 the Committee on Education of the DC City Council held a public roundtable to discuss the contract.  Over 30 Lunch Ladies from the Teamsters Local 639 turned out along with students from elementary, middle, and high schools; DCPS parents and teachers; and a representative for the wonderful program, FoodPrints.  You can watch a recording of the hearing here.

We will post copies of each person’s testimony here as it becomes available.

In the meantime, PLEASE contact your ward representative and encourage them to vote to DISAPPROVE.  We don’t want to just hand over $35.4 million when there are such major problems with the contract.  Sodexo is charging way too much, and their track record indicates that the quality and taste of the food served to students will not improve.

We’re working to find a “third way” — some way we can avoid handing over millions of dollars to this company but not have to fall back on an emergency feeding plan.  But in the meantime, as we work out the details, please contact your Councilmembers and ask them to vote to DISAPPROVE!

 

Testimony of Ivy Ken