[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