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Circle of Nations School Promotes Healthier Lifestyles for Their Children

Students at Circle of Nations School gathered vegetables that they grew in the school’s garden.  They used the kale and cabbage in a “Healthy Choices” cooking class.

Students at Circle of Nations School gathered vegetables that they grew in the school’s garden. They used the kale and cabbage in a “Healthy Choices” cooking class.

In November, USDA pays tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans by observing Native American Heritage Month.  Today, an important part of Native American culture includes working towards a healthier lifestyle for Native American people.  The following guest blog demonstrates the wide range of efforts that tribes are making to support a healthier next generation.  We thank the Circle of Nations School for sharing their story.

By Lise Erdrich, School Health Coordinator, Circle of Nations School

Circle of Nations School (CNS) is an inter-tribal off-reservation boarding school in Wahpeton, N.D., chartered under the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate and funded by the Bureau of Indian Education. CNS serves American Indian youth in grades 4 through 8.

CNS is a 2012 recipient of the HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award, a Green Ribbon School Award, and of the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant. CNS was the first Green Ribbon School in the state of North Dakota and the entire Bureau of Indian Education system. These and related initiatives promote healthy environment, physical activity and nutritional improvement points including fresh, locally sourced food. Read more »

Connecting Schoolchildren to Healthy Food Choices

Concannon chats with Takoma Park Middle School’s eighth grade Family and Consumer Science class, where students examine food labeling and packaging.

Concannon chats with Takoma Park Middle School’s eighth grade Family and Consumer Science class, where students examine food labeling and packaging.

Last month, schools all across the nation celebrated National School Lunch Week, honoring the importance of healthy meals to education.  I was able to join in one of these celebrations right here in the national Capital area, and the great things I saw at Takoma Park (Md.) Middle School are still fresh in my mind.

I was already aware of the commitment that the Division of Nutrition and Food Services of Montgomery County Public Schools has made to serving healthy meals, as well some of the important strides they have taken across this large district.  But on this trip, I wanted to see first-hand how Takoma Park Principal Alicia Teeny and her teaching staff connect children in the classroom to healthy food choices. Read more »

USDA and Partners Build a Healthier Next Generation!

Through partnership, FNS and NFSMI will work with school food authorities to identify challenges and provide nuanced resources to promote a healthier school day.

Through partnership, FNS and NFSMI will work with school food authorities to identify challenges and provide nuanced resources to promote a healthier school day.

As schools continue to move forward with serving healthier meals to tens of millions of our nation’s school children, there is a natural need for a model of sharing best practices. To provide that support, our partner, the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI), will pilot the Team Up For Success Training Initiative in the Food and Nutrition Service’s Southeast Region.

Through the initiative, schools will participate in a tailored training workshop and then enter into a peer-to-peer mentoring program designed to address their individual needs and resources.  The pilot will be conducted with about 48 school food authorities to help schools implement the updated meal requirements while maintaining financial stability and student participation.

We appreciate all that the NFSMI is doing to help build a healthier next generation.

By Katie Wilson, PhD, SNS Executive Director National Food Service Management Institute, The University of Mississippi

Team Up for School Nutrition Success is an exciting new initiative of collaboration between USDA and the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI) providing a peer to peer mentoring program for school nutrition directors. This first pilot in the Southeast Region includes over 100 attendees invited to discuss challenges, identify best practices, and learn about free resources available to them from a variety of allied organizations. Read more »

Rice Farmer Helps Migratory Birds, Cleans Water on Texas Coast

Private landowner Taylor Wilcox looks over flooded fallow rice fields on his Chambers County, Texas property. NRCS photo.

Private landowner Taylor Wilcox looks over flooded fallow rice fields on his Chambers County, Texas property. NRCS photo.

When 168,000 gallons of oil was reported to be spilled this spring into Texas’ Houston Ship Channel because of a collision between a barge and tanker, it was a reminder of the vulnerability of the Gulf of Mexico’s coastal wildlife and habitats.

The spill served to highlight the continued need for vigilance and proactive approaches in caring for the treasured Gulf Coast region. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is one federal agency working everyday with coastal landowners, farmers and ranchers on conservation efforts aimed at protecting, restoring and enhancing vital coastal resources and bird populations. Read more »

Excellence in Taste and Flavor: American Kobe-Style Beef

Highly prized for its rich flavor, Wagyu beef is among the finest beef in the world. USDA’s certification programs have successfully helped the industry market its brands with USDA integrity for over twenty years. Photo courtesy Premshree Pillai. Used with permission.

Highly prized for its rich flavor, Wagyu beef is among the finest beef in the world. USDA’s certification programs have successfully helped the industry market its brands with USDA integrity for over twenty years. Photo courtesy Premshree Pillai. Used with permission.

When consumers hear the term Kobe, the first thought that comes to mind is typically not a city in Japan, but rather a juicy steak right off the grill.  Kobe beef is globally renowned for its rich flavor, juiciness, and tenderness or high marbling content.  Kobe beef is cuts of beef from the Tajima strain of Wagyu cattle (which mean Japanese cattle), raised in Kobe, Japan.  But did you know you can find Kobe-style beef produced right here in the United States?

Since 1994, U.S. producers have worked to offer American Kobe-style beef that features the same characteristics, marbling and flavor that defines Japan’s Kobe beef by bringing herds of Kryoshi and Akaushi breeds of Wagyu cattle to the United States.  The same closed herd and multi-trait selection process used for Kobe beef was adopted and is now used by various U.S. trade associations (American Akaushi Association, the American Wagyu Association, and the Texas Wagyu Association) that promote and uphold the industry standards. Highly prized for their rich flavor, these cattle produce what some would argue is among the finest beef in the world. Read more »

Milwaukee Welcomes the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, Salutes Veterans

Smokey Bear helps to decorate the U.S. Forest Service’s tree in Milwaukee’s Cathedral Square Park during the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree trek to Washington, D.C. (U.S. Forest Service)

Smokey Bear helps to decorate the U.S. Forest Service’s tree in Milwaukee’s Cathedral Square Park during the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree trek to Washington, D.C. (U.S. Forest Service)

Despite the rain and freezing temperatures, there was warmth and good cheer in the hearts of everyone who came out to catch a glimpse of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and help transform Milwaukee’s Cathedral Square Park into Community Spirit Park on Veteran’s Day.

The fanfare also helped to honor past and present members of the Armed Forces, some of who were on hand to see a holiday bedecked park with a 50-lighted tree, Milwaukee’s Color Guard waving American flags and a larger than life 90-foot tractor trailer parked nearby. Read more »