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

Liberal High School Develops Second Chance Breakfast Program

The “Grab-n-Go” breakfast station is in Liberal High School hallways after first period, so kids can pick them up on their way to the next class. The concept has increased breakfast participation (and students’ overall nutrition) significantly.

The “Grab-n-Go” breakfast station is in Liberal High School hallways after first period, so kids can pick them up on their way to the next class. The concept has increased breakfast participation (and students’ overall nutrition) significantly.

The following guest blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting the efforts of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country.  We thank them for sharing their stories!

By Denise Kahler, Communications Director, Kansas State Department of Education

More than 70 percent of Liberal High School’s student population qualify for free or reduced meals. Yet, only 11 percent of the entire student population was taking advantage of the school’s breakfast program.  While we would like to believe that all kids eat a healthy breakfast at home and come to school ready to learn, that’s not reality.  Additionally, most high school kids would rather stay in bed as long as possible or choose to socialize with friends before school instead of taking the time to eat breakfast. For some students, buses don’t arrive at the school early enough for them to participate in the breakfast program and for others, they simply aren’t ready to eat until they’ve been awake for a while. Whatever the case, Liberal High’s breakfast program participation was too low and too many kids were turning to vending machines for snacks to get them through the day.

Knowing that something needed to be done, the school nutrition staff secured the support of the principal and a grant from the Midwest Dairy Council to find a way to increase breakfast participation. Staff knew that whatever they did, it had to be fast (kids only had five minute passing periods), would have to be fuss-free and easy to handle since kids would be taking their breakfast to class, would have to include food items that were appealing to students and included yogurt or cheese every day, and were available in a location that was easily accessible to students. Read more »

Team Up for Success! USDA and Partners Help Secure a Healthier School Day

With kids now back in the classroom, USDA wants to help schools continue to build a healthier, more nutritious environment for their students.  At the same time, we’re deeply committed to ensuring these same schools maintain financial stability and strong student participation in their meal programs.  We’re seeing more and more schools move forward with new and innovative healthy school meals, but we also understand there is a need to share best practices across the country.

Thanks to our partners at the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI), we hope to fill that void.  To make this a reality, the group will pilot the Team Up For Success Training Initiative with the assistance of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Southeast Regional Office.  Together, they’ll work with school food authorities (SFAs) to identify challenges and provide nuanced resources to promote a healthier school day. Read more »

USDA Works to Bring Conservation, Other Assistance to a Remote Georgia Island

One of the major partners in the Sapelo Island Red Pea Project is SICARS which has a facility on Sapelo Island. NRCS photo.

One of the major partners in the Sapelo Island Red Pea Project is SICARS which has a facility on Sapelo Island. NRCS photo.

Sapelo Island off the coast of Georgia has a handful of residents, some of whom make their living raising livestock, farming produce and managing forests. While the barrier island is isolated and only accessible by ferry or private boats, USDA agencies in Georgia recently held a meeting on the island to talk about available assistance.

“This workshop was a great opportunity for many of our partner agencies to come together to meet these coastal area residents, discuss their needs and provide information and assistance to a group of individuals that have worked very little with us in the past,” said Karri Honaker, a district conservationist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Read more »

Supermarkets and Restaurants Are Fighting Food Waste & Saving Money

Food donated from local restaurants and supermarkets through coordination with the Food Donation Connection is used to make delicious & healthy meals served in homeless shelters and food pantries. Photo courtesy of Food Donation Connection.

Food donated from local restaurants and supermarkets through coordination with the Food Donation Connection is used to make delicious & healthy meals served in homeless shelters and food pantries. Photo courtesy of Food Donation Connection.

Thirty-one percent of food that is available at supermarkets, restaurants, and in households goes uneaten – food that was nurtured and harvested in the fields and ends up in a landfill.  Increasingly food processing facilities, food service companies, supermarkets, and restaurants are recognizing the need to reduce, recover, and recycle all of this wasted food.  The momentum is building as more and more address the problem and take action to keep good food from entering landfills.

A week from today – on September 24, Wednesday at 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Eastern – you can join us for a webinar on “Supermarkets and Restaurants Fighting Food Waste and Saving Money” that will feature industry representatives discussing how they are leading the fight against food waste.  There will also be time devoted to dialogue, Q&As, and the sharing of resources. Read more »

Do YOU Have a Plan for Your Livestock Should Disaster Strike?

Cows on small farm.

Cows on small farm.

Last year brought some interesting weather to our country. A multi-day severe weather event included an EF3 tornado that carved a 68-mile path from Mississippi to Alabama.  Parts of Colorado had flooding so severe it destroyed thousands of homes, and wiped out 200 miles of state roads and 50 state bridges.  Winter Storm Nemo dropped a record snowfall of 31.9 inches in Portland, Maine.  And, California recorded its driest year ever—fueling wildfires that burned some 8,000 acres in Southern California.

Any disaster, whether it’s a flood, tornado or earthquake, can catch you off guard and leave you in danger. It’s important to have an emergency plan in place for your family. And if you raise livestock, an emergency plan is important as well.  Using the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) procedures to prepare now, you can quickly and easily safeguard your livestock when disaster strikes. Read more »

Raymore Peculiar Achieves Salad Bar Success with “Rainbow Days”

The following guest blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting the efforts of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country.  We thank them for sharing their stories!

By Wendy Moraskie, USDA Food and Nutrition Service

Every year the schools in Missouri’s Raymore Peculiar R II district celebrate their salad bars during “Rainbow Days.”  Thanks to the staff’s efforts to use local farmers markets, students throughout the district see fresh peppers, squash, onion, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, green beans, corn on the cob, peaches, apples, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon and more.

“Whatever’s in season, they’ll try it,” said District Food Service Director Colleen Johnston, “our kids are good experimenters.”

Missouri schools hold Rainbow Days celebrations and feature the abundance of bright colors at their salad bars as a way of encouraging students to eat a variety of foods.  To help promote the events, schools can qualify for a $200 stipend. Read more »