K-12 Blog

Discussions and Plans On The New Meal Patterns For School Meals

Posted: November 8, 2012

Dear Industry Members –
Since my last letter to you in September, there has been so much commotion in our channel. I know many of our fine foodservice directors are struggling with the interpretation of the new meal pattern regulation and with gaining menu approval by their respective states. Many of our manufactures are trying to understand where their business is or went, due to all the menu changes that have occurred. As a collective group of foodservice directors and industry representatives, we need to keep the communications flowing and continue to work and push for solutions. Together as one, we will get through this challenge.

A step in the right direction occurred on September 25th, when a group from SNA met with representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to discuss the implementation of the new meal pattern regulation for school meals. During that discussion, some of the topics covered were challenges meeting calorie minimums and maximums; grain and protein restrictions; fruit and vegetable acceptance and plate waste; highly athletic students, as well as students from food-insecure households being hungry; challenges with procurement and existing excess inventory; increased costs; and drastic drops in participation. Industry concerns that were brought up included the short window of time to develop the new formulated products; the slowness to get guidance from USDA on the new regulation; and overall confusion in our world, where is our business today. I felt very optimistic leaving USDA that day as I truly believe the USDA listened very closely. You can read more and see pictures from the event here.

Collectively we need to continue to bring our issues forward, as well as offer possible solutions. As you’re reading this, we have wrapped up the election of our President and Congress. The battle ahead for us all is now the national budget and how it will affect the NSLP. During this past year, there have been individuals in D.C. who raised the topic of Block Grants. Marshall and Roger’s article will help you better understand the possibilities. Stay tuned! All of this will make for a very interesting and critically important Legislative Action Conference (LAC) in March of 2013.

Finally, in an effort to better utilize the talents and resources of industry and to get you more connected, we are looking for those of you who would like to assist on the following Support Work Teams:

• Conference Site Selection to assist SNA by identifying potential locations and hotels for future meetings.
• Communications/Marketing to provide communication and marketing advice and counsel to SNA staff.
• State Association to work as part of a SWAT team with SNA leaders and staff to assist SNA chartered affiliates that may be struggling.

If you are interested or have questions about the level of participation, please contact SNA Staff VP of Industry Relations Sherry Carrigan at (301) 686-3151 or email me at gvonck@kisales.com.

Please continue to keep me informed of your thoughts, concerns and any new ideas.

Thank you and have a great day!

Gary D. Vonck
Industry Representative

Published in – Industry Insider: News from SchoolNutrition.org    Vol. 10, No. 10 – Nov. 8, 2012

About the Author:


Gary Vonck

VP - Education Division

Gary Vonck has been with KeyImpact since 2007, adding to an impressive 40-year foodservice career. His knowledge and passion for child nutrition are unsurpassed. Gary oversees the Education Division, which includes sales, bid, and commodity teams across the entire nation.

Gary is an active member of the SNA and was the first and only broker/agency representative on the School Nutrition Association’s Industry Advisory Board, as the appointed Industry Representative, in 2008 and again 2014. Gary has also served on numerous SNA Task Forces and co-chaired several SNA events. Gary was also on the NSFMI national advisory council. In January 2013, Gary was awarded the Silver Friend of Child Nutrition FAME Award.

Gary Vonck is based in Illinois and can be reached at gvonck@kisales.com.