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Category: Food and Nutrition

Students Get Involved in School Lunch through School Lunch Advisory Councils

There are many ways Team Nutrition schools are involving students in the development of school meal menus and health promotion activities.  These activities can help schools offer nutritious foods in a manner that appeals to children and can help students learn about nutrition and school foodservice.  This guest blog highlights promising strategies for involving students in school meals through the use of School Lunch Advisory Councils.  It also describes how Montana students are playing a role in helping their schools implement Smarter Lunchrooms techniques to reduce food waste and increase consumption of healthful foods.  

Interested in implementing Smarter Lunchrooms techniques at your school? Get started with this free self-assessment checklist from the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Program. Team Nutrition provides nutrition education materials, training tools, and grants to assist schools in creating healthier environments. Learn more about Team Nutrition and how to become a Team Nutrition school at http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/team-nutrition. Read more »

An Inside Look: Anatomy of a Team Up Workshop

If you haven’t heard the buzz, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s expansion of the Team Up for School Nutrition Success  initiative is in full swing, with 20 completed trainings and 14 more scheduled for 2016. Team Up offers a unique learning experience that enhances schools’ food service operations through training and peer-to-peer mentorship to school nutrition professionals looking to maintain a healthy environment and encourage strong student meal program participation.
What exactly happens at a Team Up training? Ever had an “a-ha” or a “why didn’t I think of that” moment when a friend shares a really great idea? Team Up is where “a-ha” moments are shared among school nutrition professionals and turned into action back via their school meals programs. Let’s break down a Team Up workshop to see how these “a-ha” moments transpire. Read more »

West Virginia: After the Flooding Neighbors Helping Neighbors Get the Food They Need

Venise LeGrande

Venise LeGrande, a Greenbrier County resident, awaits processing of her D-SNAP application.

It was late July in Greenbrier County, W.Va., almost one month to the day since torrential rain and flooding struck most of the state.  In response to the disaster, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service approved the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) request to operate a Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) in several of the most severely impacted counties, including Greenbrier.  At several of the D-SNAP application sites throughout the state, dozens of DHHR staff prepared for what they anticipated to be a busy week of conducting interviews, determining eligibility, and issuing D-SNAP benefits to residents who lost food, income and property due to the flooding. Read more »

Think Nutrition as High School Students Return to School

SuperTracker Lesson Plans for High School graphic

SuperTracker Lesson Plans for High School graphic

The start of the school year is a great time to get high school students thinking about the nutrition and physical activity choices they make. USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) and Team Nutrition have a variety of resources available to support high school educators as they guide students on their path to good health.

SuperTracker Lesson Plans for High School Students

CNPP has just released updated SuperTracker Nutrition Lesson Plans for High School Students. This free nutrition education resource for teachers, schools, and health educators helps students grades 9-12 learn how to build a healthy diet using MyPlate and SuperTracker, an interactive food and physical activity tracking tool. Originally released in 2014, the lesson plans have been updated to reflect the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and two new lessons have been added. Read more »

Local Foods in Schools Bring Rural Communities Together

Cortez Middle School students sampling produce

Cortez Middle School students sampling produce from the garden.

From the west coast to New England, rural communities across the country are implementing community food systems’ strategies. The projects are bringing more local food into school meals, promoting healthy eating habits and expanding markets for American farmers and producers.

The USDA Farm to School Grant Program is proud to support these efforts. Over the past four years, approximately four out of ten schools impacted by the program are in rural communities. We look forward to supporting similar projects in the future and are currently accepting applications for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 funding. Visit our grant opportunities page for more information.

To celebrate the release of the FY 2017 RFA, we are highlighting two projects that are having a big impact in their communities. Read more »

USDA Graded Cage-Free Eggs: All They’re Cracked Up To Be

Certified Egg Facts infographic

AMS verifies cage-free claims for shell eggs by visiting the farms twice each year to ensure that the eggs are in fact coming from a cage-free flock. (Click to view a larger version)

When it comes to purchasing eggs, consumers have interests that go well beyond what they see in the carton.  For many buyers, where that egg came from and how it was produced are just as important as the finished product.  Organic, locally produced, cage-free, and free range are just a few of the marketing claims consumers will find on the carton, as producers try to communicate the attributes of their product.  To provide additional assurance to their customers of the validity of marketing claims, shell egg producers often enlist the services of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

In recent months, a long list of large volume food buyers – including restaurants, grocers, distributors and more – have announced they will transition to sourcing eggs and egg products only from cage-free production systems.  You can learn more about this trend in a recent USDA Blog post.  Many shell egg suppliers have already found a way to assure customers that products marketed as cage-free are indeed sourced from such systems: when USDA Graded eggs are also identified as cage-free, they must undergo a review process to verify the claim is truthful. Read more »