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Team Up Training Fosters Healthier Schools, Empowers School Nutrition Professionals

Seminole County Public Schools Fresh Fruits & Veggies

Seminole County Public Schools Fresh Fruits & Veggies Menu.

The following guest blog highlights the success story of one of our nation’s school nutrition change agents. As a recent participant and lead mentor in USDA’s Team Up for School Nutrition Success Initiative, Richard Miles provided best practices and strategies to ensure his peers have the tools they need to manage successful school meal programs.

By Richard Miles, Coordinator of Nutrition and Wellness, Seminole County (Fla.) Public Schools

The Team Up for School Nutrition Success training was an experience that provided me with valuable tools, resources and networking opportunities, along with the motivation and confidence to empower school nutrition professionals, like myself, to create positive changes in our schools and communities. Read more »

Community Eligibility: Navigating Speed Bumps on the Way to Success

A Los Angeles, CA Unified School student enjoying tasty new meals

Many schools in high-poverty areas find that participating in CEP is cost-effective.

When the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act authorized the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), schools in high-poverty areas gained another important tool to fight childhood hunger.  By the end of school year 2014-15, the first year CEP was available nationwide, more than half of all eligible schools had already jumped on board. 

Low-income schools of all kinds – rural, urban, elementary and secondary – recognized the potential impact they could have on their communities by offering meals at no cost to all students.  Yet, some schools encountered more bumps on the road to implementation than others. Read more »

University of Kentucky Collaboration Empowers Louisville’s Homeless Youth

Homeless teenage girl on street with rucksack

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment researchers are helping homeless youth in Louisville, KY using a NIFA Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Sustainable Community Projects grant. Photo credit: iStock

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that every year more than 1.7 million teens experience homelessness in the United States.  According to the Coalition for the Homeless, Louisville, Kentucky, had 555 young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 stay in homeless shelters over the past year. When those young adults were surveyed about who they turned to for help in reaching their goals or fulfilling their basic needs, an alarming number replied:

“No one.”

Researchers from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment (UKag) are helping this underserved population with the help of a five-year, $660,000 Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Sustainable Community Projects grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Carissa Koopmann Rivers

Carissa Koopmann Rivers with grazing cattle on Mount Diablo

Carissa Koopmann Rivers, a fifth generation cow/calf rancher, with grazing cattle on Mount Diablo.

As part of our ongoing #womeninag series, we are highlighting a different leading woman in agriculture each month.  This month, we profile Carissa Koopmann Rivers, a fifth generation cow/calf rancher from Sunol, Calif., where her family established the Koopmann Ranch in 1918.

The Koopmann family has continued to be at the forefront of conservation and partnership development including playing a key role in the establishment of the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition.  Carissa discusses how there is not a “one size fits all” approach when it comes to living on the family farm or ranch. She believes that it’s not about fitting the mold, but what sets us apart that defines how we will build a future for the agriculture industry. Read more »

Apalachicola National Forest Restores National Historic Landmark

Youth workers constructing an Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility-compliant trail

Youth workers construct an Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility-compliant trail leading to the central kiosk and earthen fort. Local volunteers, HistoriCorps partners from Colorado and Texas Conservation Corps members participated in the two-week renovation on the Apalachicola National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service photo/Jesse English)

The drive to Fort Gadsden’s Historic Site on the Apalachicola National Forest is something reminiscent of a nature documentary. Towering pines line the highway while vibrant wildflowers bloom throughout the fields. Local volunteers and Apalachicola National Forest employees are busily working in the stifling heat on a restoration project at this National Historic Landmark, the only one located in the southeast on National Forest Service land. The volunteers include: a team of workers from Colorado called ‘HistoriCorps,’ and a cadre from the Texas Conservation Corps at American Youthworks.

“Without volunteers like us, a lot of these things just go to waste and rot away because nobody has the money, the time, or the work force to do it,” said Amanda Tulley, a HistoriCorps partner from Denver. Read more »

Back to School Checklist: Fruits and Veggies

A girl eating an apple on the Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs poster

USDA’s revised guide, Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs can help schools find, buy and serve more regional offerings.

Fruits and vegetables are at the top of USDA’s back to school list, and just in time for the new school year, the Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables is making it easier for schools in eight states to purchase them. The 2014 Farm Bill authorizes the pilot in not more than eight states participating in the National School Lunch Program, and provides them with an opportunity to better access nutritious foods. The pilot also helps create and expand market opportunities for our nation’s fruit and vegetable producers, opening the door for a variety of vendors, small growers, food hubs and distributors to supply unprocessed fruits and vegetables to participating schools.   

So far, five states (California, Connecticut, Michigan, New York and Oregon) have spent over $600,000 through the pilot from February through June 2015. Several California districts contracted a produce distributor to connect local and regional producers with schools to receive peaches, cauliflower, apricots, and kale from their state. Students in Oregon are chomping on pears from the Pacific Northwest, while many Connecticut and New York schools are feasting on Macintosh apples from Massachusetts orchards and Empire apples from New York. Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin were also selected for the pilot and will begin receiving deliveries of fruits and vegetables in the coming months. Read more »