Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Next Year at School: New Standards Point to Healthier Snacks and Other Competitive Foods

Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, “competitive foods” in schools (a la carte and vending machine items) will be subject to new nutritional standards.

Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, “competitive foods” in schools (a la carte and vending machine items) will be subject to new nutritional standards.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, “competitive foods” in schools will be subject to new nutritional standards. Competitive foods include à la carte cafeteria items like pizza, French fries, and ice cream, as well as snacks and beverages sold in vending machines or at snack bars, school stores, or other locations.

Referred to as “competitive foods” because they compete with meals served through the National School Lunch Program, these foods and beverages are currently inconsistently regulated and frequently high-calorie, low-nutrient options. Competitive foods are more common at secondary than at elementary schools. A 2005 survey revealed that 32 percent of elementary schools and more than 60 percent of secondary schools offered non-milk a la carte items. Vending machines were found in 27 percent of elementary, 87 percent of middle, and 98 percent of high schools. Read more »

The Next Generation of Statisticians

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

One of the most exciting aspects of my job as the head of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and an advocate for statistical literacy is to see students coming into the profession of statistics. We are fortunate, according to Bob Rodriguez, past-president of the American Statistical Association (ASA) in a column published in ASA’s AMSTATNEWS, “that the number of students majoring or minoring in statistics is soaring because of positive experiences in AP Statistics courses. The word is out that statistics is a ‘must’.”

Engaging students even earlier than high school is important not only for developing future statisticians but also so that they understand the importance of responding to surveys.  Both private and government statistics, including those about agriculture from my agency, are dependent on voluntary survey response. Read more »

Ready, Set, Learn: USDA Lessons for Our Nation’s Next Generation

Photo Courtesy of Arlington Public Schools.

In honor of back to school week, USDA offers an array of youth-focused curriculum and learning resources. Photo Courtesy of Arlington Public Schools.

It’s that time of year! Back to school season is upon us and agencies across the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are working to ensure a stronger and healthier future for our nation’s next generation of leaders. That means providing a happy and healthy learning environment for our kids, and helping them grow up with the tools they need to succeed. Read more »

Start A School Garden – Here’s How…

Teachers and students from Adams-Friendship Middle School in Adams, Wisconsin are growing a beautiful People’s Garden in the interior courtyard of their school.

Teachers and students from Adams-Friendship Middle School in Adams, Wisconsin are growing a beautiful People’s Garden in the interior courtyard of their school.

Numerous excellent school garden programs have sprouted up across the country. School gardens often provide food that improves a child’s diet and nutrition, areas for learning, places for pleasure and recreation, as well as a continuing lesson in environmental stewardship and civic pride. But how do they take root?

School gardens are sown with similar considerations but vary based upon its geographic location, funding, grade level involvement, size, type and purpose. For anyone looking to begin a gardening program at a school, here are some tips to consider before you get growing:

Read more »