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Category: Food and Nutrition

Farm to School: We Are Here to Help!

Members of the USDA Farm to School team in front of the USDA headquarters in Washington, DC.

Members of the USDA Farm to School team in front of the USDA headquarters in Washington, DC.

Since the official start of the USDA Farm to School Program, we’ve focused on making sure schools have the tools they need to bring local products into the lunchroom and teach children where their food comes from. As October is National Farm to School Month, it seems an opportune time to take stock of the many resources available from USDA to help bring the farm to school.

One of our newest resources, Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs, covers procurement basics — how to define local, where to find local products, and the variety of ways schools can purchase locally in accordance with regulations. The guide is complemented by a twelve-part webinar series called Finding, Buying and Serving Local Foods. Our fact sheets cover topics that range from USDA grants and loans that support farm to school activities to working with Cooperative Extension professionals to grow your program, while a brand new Farm to School Planning Toolkit offers eleven distinct chapters on everything from school gardens to menu planning, marketing and more. Read more »

Farm-to-School and School Nutrition Programs: Dedicated to Serving Healthy Fresh Food

Dunbar Elementary School students enjoying fresh, local strawberries during Delaware's Strawberry week.

Dunbar Elementary School students enjoying fresh, local strawberries during Delaware's Strawberry week.

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 Nancy R. Mears, Supervisor of School Nutrition, Delaware

Farm to School (F2S) means different things to different people depending on where you live in the country. In Delaware, utilizing F2S to source local produce allows Laurel School District to meet the fruit and vegetable requirements of the new meal pattern outlined by federal guidelines for school meals. With a little creativity, we found these guidelines can be met with this valuable resource.

Delaware’s Farm to School Program unifies 19 school districts and assists all schools in purchasing local products. F2S is an economic benefit to Delaware farmers, as well as its economy and agricultural industry. Read more »

Federal Employees Help to Knock Out Hunger

AMS Deputy Associate Administrator Karen Comfort, Feds Feeds Families’ 2014 National Program Manager, tells the crowd that the campaign delivered 14.8 million pounds of donated food that went to food banks and pantries across the country.

AMS Deputy Associate Administrator Karen Comfort, Feds Feeds Families’ 2014 National Program Manager, tells the crowd that the campaign delivered 14.8 million pounds of donated food that went to food banks and pantries across the country.

When I became National Program Manager for the 2014 Feds Feeds Families campaign—the sixth annual, nationwide food drive of Federal employees—I challenged Federal employees nationwide to help knock out hunger by supporting this year’s initiative.  I had every confidence that our Nation’s civil servants would step up in a huge way.  Feds have a tradition of generosity and answering the call whenever, wherever, and however they are needed.  Even so, this year’s results far exceeded my expectations:  14.8 million pounds of donated food went to food banks and pantries across the country.  That’s 7,400 tons of food this year.

Since 2009, the campaign has donated almost 39 million pounds of food to families and individuals in need.  All Federal agencies across the country participated.  Federal employees donated both perishable and non-perishable food items throughout the summer.  This year Feds Feed Families also encouraged employees to take advantage of gleaning (clearing fields of unused produce). Read more »

Variety and Consistency are the Pillars to CentroNia’s “Eat Healthy, Live Healthy” Program

A student from DC Bilingual Public Charter School enjoys a taco.

A student from DC Bilingual Public Charter School enjoys a taco.

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 Bea Zuluaga, Food and Nutrition Director, CentroNía/DC Bilingual Public Charter School, Washington, DC

Children living in Washington, D.C., and across the country spend a large part of their day in school and rely heavily on their educational institutions for nourishment. As educators, it is imperative that we expose children to a variety of healthy, nutrient-rich foods early on in their development, and CentroNía does just that! We prepare various meals and snacks to support children’s learning thanks to programs such as the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010.

With more than 260 employees who serve 2,500 children, youth, and families in the District of Columbia and Maryland, CentroNía’s mission is to educate children and youth, and strengthen families in a bilingual, multicultural community. We cook meals and prepare snacks on the premises that incorporate whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, more vegetarian proteins and local produce.  By eliminating processed foods and juices from our institution, we drastically reduced the sugar and sodium on our menus. Read more »

National School Lunch Week Offers a Time to Celebrate Children’s Health

On Friday, President Obama recognized October 12-18 as National School Lunch Week with an official proclamation.  The message thanks hardworking school food service professionals, the tireless staff who demonstrate a daily commitment to providing schoolchildren with proper nutrition to enrich their lives in the classroom and beyond.

Since President Harry Truman signed the National School Lunch Act in 1946, schools have served more than 220 billion lunches!  Meals that have enabled scores of American children the opportunity to grow, learn and thrive.  And with more than 30 million students participating in the National School Lunch Program each day, balanced meals at school play a key role in fostering a healthier next generation. Read more »

Bringing You Food and Fiber to Fit Your Active Lifestyle

America's ag promotion groups are dedicated to helping fuel and inspire active, health-conscious consumers. Photo courtesy of AMS.

America's ag promotion groups are dedicated to helping fuel and inspire active, health-conscious consumers. Photo courtesy of AMS.

If you’ve learned how to cut a mango from a magazine article, read about new fabrics on a website or heard about nutrition research on almonds from a health reporter on TV, chances are one of America’s ag promotion groups made that information possible and available. From the clothes you wear to the food you eat, these groups are leading efforts to research and promote food and fiber that fits your lifestyle. Read more »