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Whitsons: 'Wildly Inaccurate Accusations' Fly About East Haven School Lunches, Labor Talks

Whitsons Culinary Group responds to criticism about its food service program and contract talks with school cafeteria workers. The district avoided a strike Monday after the workers' union voted 15-12 not to walk off the job.

[Editor's Note: The following is an open letter to the East Haven community submitted by Whitsons Culinary Group. Additionally, word has come tonight via a that the cafeteria workers' union vote to consider a strike has failed by 15-12 count. East Haven Patch will have additional reporting on the new contract as more information becomes available.]

To the Editor:

We would like to respond to the wildly inaccurate accusations that have been flying back and forth as a result of in the East Haven Patch.

First, regarding the allegations of poor food quality, these statements are untrue, and quite frankly, ridiculous. Whitsons continues to lead the industry with our high quality, nutritious meals and award-winning nutrition awareness programs that have been benefiting the students of East Haven for eight years.

We continue to stay ahead of the curve with innovative programs that not only meet the stringent guidelines of the new , but in many instances go above and beyond the Act’s requirements.

We offer lean proteins, whole grains, low fat cheeses, all natural condiments and fresh fruits and vegetables, all meeting or exceeding the HHFKA’s guidelines for protein, carbohydrates, dairy, fruit and vegetable portions, PLUS we already meet the 2014-15 standards for sodium content in our meals.

Beyond the HHFKA’s requirements, we purchase an average of 52% of our products locally, we prepare meals from scratch, using wholesome ingredients and we source products that do not contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors whenever possible. We continue to lead industry efforts on these initiatives and are directly responsible for applying strong pressure to many nationwide suppliers to remove these additives from products such as breads, ketchup and dressings, for the benefit of school children nationwide!

In accordance with the requirements of the HHFKA, protein and carb portions in our meals have indeed decreased, while vegetable and fruit components have increased.  This was put into place to ensure that our children are eating a healthy, balanced meal with proper portions by age group.

Second, regarding union contract negotiations, Whitsons began contract negotiations with the union in March. We have met 5 times with the union and have come to an agreement on all but several items, which we are making a good faith effort to reach an agreement on. We have a long history of positive relations with various unions throughout the Northeast, and we are hopeful that we can soon reach an agreement that will be mutually satisfactory for all parties.

We applaud the hard work and dedication of the foodservice workers at East Haven. You should feel proud of the service you provide, and the high quality of the meals you serve to the students. Our goal is the same as your goal, to provide only the best food and state of the art nutrition education to the students of East Haven.

We will continue to work diligently to reach an agreement with the union, so that we can all concentrate on the most important business at hand, the business of serving nutritious, great tasting meals to your children.

Holly Von Seggern
Vice President of Marketing & Brand Management
for Whitsons Culinary Group

Patrick Madley August 28, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Sounds like we have some proponents for Whitsons in here, haha. Fact of the matter is, a lot of students won't get a meal throughout the day except for this one. As Rosie stated above, this may be their only meal and we have a large amount of students on free or reduced lunch. I am sorry but we really need to look into what's best for the students. They get overlooked way too often. They need a nutritious meal. Not saying Whitsons does not have a nutritional value to it. I'm just stating a fact.
Matt Lyons August 28, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Soylent Green was supposed to be nutritous too!
CAjones August 28, 2012 at 08:49 PM
that's some gooood sh..tuff...... but IT'S PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
Becki Pastor August 28, 2012 at 09:54 PM
@Rosie, my kids actually do qualify for and get the free lunch program though they do sometimes bring their lunch as well and I agree it should be better and it sounds like they are trying....our I'd like to think they are And I agree that the spokesperson Whitsons is obligated to promote their agenda which is to keep the contract....that said a reality check and more corporate supervision and quality control would go much farther to improve their image. And yes autocorrect is not my friend but my computer is not available at the moment. Thanks for at least attempting to understand my digital chicken scratch!!
Matt Lyons August 28, 2012 at 10:57 PM
FYI The story of soylent Green was a product developed by the soylent corporation to feed the overwhelming masses as natural resources were depleted. There were already other designated colors of soylent before green was released. Green was supposed to be algae based using abundant algae grown from the oceans. But when it came time to make it , it was found that the oceans had been depleted of all life and no algae was to be found. So, the corporation, working with key government officials decided to use humans. This would feed the masses and also create population control.

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