by Marion Nestle
May 14 2011

Welcome to Cool School Café (the mind boggles)

Thanks to a reader, Sam Boutelle, I have now been introduced to the Cool School Café.  This is a company that markets special deals on processed food products to school food service directors:

Cool School Cafe® Manufacturer Alliance (CSCMA), founded in 1995, is an industry leader in School Foodservice marketing. CSCMA is a unique resource for you, SFS Directors and purchase decision-makers, to learn about food manufacturers serving the industry plus have the opportunity to earn valuable marketing support for their meal program.

The way this works is that your school joins the program, and CSCMA lets you know about manufacturers’ special offers.  You buy the stuff and get points for everything you buy.  You redeem the points for free stuff.  Clever, no?

And what kinds of products are targeting schools?  Try this, for example:

I’ll bet you never would have guessed that something like this could be a health food!  Zero grams trans fat!  Only 35% sugar by weight!

Let’s hear it for nutritionism in action.  All a company has to do to get its products into schools is to get them to meet USDA’s standards for nutrients.

You think USDA should change from nutrient-based to food-based standards?  Here’s all the evidence you need.


  • Eliza

    Nothing surprises me. At my son’s school, they have food marketers once a week. Often they will have a prize like a flat screen tv and you get raffle tickets to enter the prize if you taste their product. They tend to be “faux healthy” products like flavored water (what’s wrong with regular water?) or some kind of energy sports drink.

  • When I was in school, we were rewarded with a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut every time we read 10 books. Sounds like things are the same today only the marketers try to make the junk appear healthy.

  • Love this post! Thanks for sharing!

  • Lee Poe

    Can’t blame the forces of The Holy Free Market for taking advantage of outdated, originally questionable regulations. Or can we? How’d the USDA get to talking about components of food instead of the food itself? Could it have been prior bribes and corruption…er…lobbying that got it all so messed up in the first place?

    However it got this way, it does seem best to think about eating in terms of food-based measures instead of levels of minimal ingredients with the rest allowed to be nearly anything at all.

  • Sheila

    This is crazy. Where are the lobby groups for real foods??

  • Welcome to The Main Street Diet …

  • JudyThomas

    Another reason why we have opted out of school cafeteria food.

  • Bree

    I lost 17 pounds using a free guide I found at, if anyone is interested

  • When we went to both sons colleges, at the beginning there were booths set up with pizza and other fast food as come-ons for the kids to sign up for credit cards. Amazing how junk food is so prevalent in our society!

  • Jon

    And 0 grams trans fat means < 0.5 grams. The RDA is a LITERAL 0 grams. It's still likely infinity percent of the RDA.

    <= 35% sugar by weight? LOL If this were Skittles, I'd call it a miracle.

    Dear God, let candy be candy. An occasional regular 3 Musketeers won't hurt you, "occasional" being the key word.

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