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Category: Food and Nutrition

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 »

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 »

Helping Rhode Island Students Fuel Up to Succeed with Breakfast

Louis Escobar, Rhode Island Dairy Farmer and President of Rhody Fresh Milk, speaking to students at Ferri Middle School in Johnston.

Louis Escobar, Rhode Island Dairy Farmer and President of Rhody Fresh Milk, speaking to students at Ferri Middle School in Johnston.

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 Jane Q Vergnani, Nutrition Specialist for New England Dairy & Food Council

As a transplant Rhode Islander – or as my 4-year-old daughter says, “Little Rhody’er” – who has lived, gone to school and worked as a nutrition specialist for the New England Dairy & Food Council in the state for over seven years, I am passionate about helping students succeed.

Through my work with Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school nutrition and physical activity program created by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League, in cooperation with the USDA, I have the opportunity to visit and work with many schools throughout Rhode Island. Read more »

Community Eligibility Provision First Step to Universal School Meals in Vermont

The following guest blog was submitted by Alida Duncan of the anti-hunger advocacy organization, Hunger Free Vermont. The implementation of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) by many state partners across the country means that more students have access to free healthy meals at school.  This policy can reduce food insecurity for the nearly 16 million children living in households that have trouble affording enough nutritious food. In Vermont, over 7,000 students are participating in CEP.

Guest Post By Alida Duncan, Hunger Free Vermont, Development & Marketing Director

Many kids aren’t getting the nutrients they need and some aren’t getting enough to eat at all. In an animated video produced by the anti-hunger advocacy organization, Hunger Free Vermont, Universal School Meals is presented as the solution for improving student health and academic performance, strengthening the local economy, and making schools a more welcoming place. Read more »

WIC: Improving the Nutrition and Health of Families’ for Forty Years

For 40 years, WIC has been improving health outcomes for pregnant women, infants and young children.  Today, we are celebrating this important milestone by visiting the first WIC clinic in America to distribute WIC benefits, officially known as the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children.  Check out the video below to meet the amazing staff of Bell County Health Department, who made history by distributing the first WIC benefits in Pineville, Kentucky back in 1974. Read more »