Demands for healthier foods affect school meals

We love that food manufacturers are becoming more attune to consumers’ desires for healthier foods. Nutritional awareness of, and demand for, foods free of dyes and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as well as more organic foods are driving changes in the marketplace.

Foods free of GMOs, dyes

Sourcing products free of GMOs, dyes and other food additives for child nutrition programs can be challenging as the USDA label requirements for products sold to schools focus on statements for meat/meat alternatives and whole grain equivalents. CN labels may not indicate if GMOs or dyes are used in products. While we generally don’t see references to red or yellow dyes on ingredient labels, we cannot guarantee products are free of dyes as they are very hard to track. Products containing GMOs may not be identified as such on labels, but we are increasingly seeing non-GMO products being marketed as such as more manufacturers respond to consumers’ desires.

Organic foods

Health-conscious consumers are also buying organic fruits and vegetables with more regularity. CKC has worked with schools to offer organic fruits and vegetables in the past, however, none have continued the organic offerings long term for two reasons:

  1. The extremely limited selections and quantities available from our suppliers. Our distributors are carrying more organic produce but lack the quantities needed to serve an entire school. The products they offer are also offered sporadically and inconsistently, which would result in frequent substitutions in our menus. CKC would need to shop several stores almost daily to purchase enough of the same organic fruits and vegetables procured from a distributor to serve a school of 50 students the exact same meal.
  2. The considerable increased costs they had to pass along to parents. Schools found that they had to charge parents an additional $2.50 or more above the standard meal costs to offset the increased expense for organic items.

Until the supply catches up with the demand and drives prices down, schools will have limited access to organic produce.




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