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Category: Food and Nutrition

Fighting Hunger with Healthy Food: The Perfect Recipe for School Children

USDA and its partners help make the healthy choice the easy choice for America’s young people.

USDA and its partners help make the healthy choice the easy choice for America’s young people.

This guest blog was submitted by Ellen Parker of Massachusetts’ statewide anti-hunger advocacy organization, Project Bread. As America deals with obesity more than ever, school cafeterias are supporting better nutrition for our kids and echoing public health efforts taking place across the country. USDA is committed to working closely with students, parents, school stakeholders and community partners to continue supporting nutrition guidelines that make the healthy choice, the easy choice for America’s young people.

By Ellen Parker, Executive Director, Project Bread

At Project Bread, it is our belief that the opposite of hungry is not simply full, but healthy. We constantly strive to ensure that every person, across Massachusetts, has consistent access to fresh, healthy foods that meet their needs. And ensuring children have access to healthy meals in school is a major part of that. Read more »

Solving the Fresh Produce Equation

The webinar series is an off-shoot of an ongoing AMS produce webinar series and the popular Produce Safety University (PSU), which helps school foodservice personnel identify and manage food safety risks associated with handling fresh produce. USDA photo courtesy of Lance Cheung.

The webinar series is an off-shoot of an ongoing AMS produce webinar series and the popular Produce Safety University (PSU), which helps school foodservice personnel identify and manage food safety risks associated with handling fresh produce. USDA photo courtesy of Lance Cheung.

Whether it’s solving a math problem or figuring out how to buy quality fresh apples, having the right tools and training will lead you to a positive solution. Managing fresh and fresh-cut produce purchases can seem like a complicated math problem for many schools, food banks and other large volume institutions. To help them figure out the right formula and address all of the variables, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) designed a webinar series to help these establishments successfully buy, receive and handle fresh and fresh-cut produce.

The webinar series is an off-shoot of an ongoing AMS produce webinar series and the popular Produce Safety University (PSU), which helps school foodservice personnel identify and manage food safety risks associated with handling fresh produce. While PSU was delivered using interactive, hands-on classes, the webinar series’ online format allows more people to expand their knowledge of all things produce. As a result, more and more large volume institutions will be able to satisfy their demand for fresh produce. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Celebrating Our Nation’s Agricultural Abundance this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a celebration of the harvest and the abundance of food we are able to share with our friends and family. This Thanksgiving, take a moment to thank the farmers and ranchers who make our nation’s agricultural abundance possible. Without them, the safe, abundant and affordable food we’ll put on our tables at Thanksgiving would not be possible.

At the same time, this Thanksgiving, it is important to remember those less fortunate. Many people will donate time, food or other resources to a food bank to brighten the holiday for families in their communities, and I am proud to say that many USDA employees are among them. I am also proud that through our People’s Garden Initiative, we’ve been able to donate 3.9 million pounds of fresh produce to food banks across the country over the last few years. Read more »

Thanksgiving Is a Great Time to Start Reducing Food Waste with Friends & Family

On average, these polts will take 4 to 5 months to make weight.  It takes a lot of natural resources, energy, labor, and love to raise the estimated 46 million turkeys that will be consumed this Thanksgiving.  Show your appreciation by making sure you waste as little food as possible. Photo courtesy of USDA.

On average, these polts will take 4 to 5 months to make weight. It takes a lot of natural resources, energy, labor, and love to raise the estimated 46 million turkeys that will be consumed this Thanksgiving. Show your appreciation by making sure you waste as little food as possible. Photo courtesy of USDA.

Thanksgiving is a time to appreciate all that is good in our lives and to spend it in the company of friends and family while enjoying great food.  It is also a time to reflect on the bounty of our food supply.  Each year, as I put away the leftovers from my Thanksgiving dinner, I marvel at the abundance.

I also can’t avoid pausing to consider how much food is wasted in this country.

USDA estimates that on average, American consumers waste about one-fifth of food that is available to them, equivalent to about $371 per person annually.  That’s enough money to buy about 21 whole turkeys for each person in the country. Read more »

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 »

Healthy and Happy Students in D.C. Public Schools

Students from District of Columbia Public Schools enjoy locally sourced fresh strawberries during the annual Strawberries and Salad Greens Day celebration this spring.

Students from District of Columbia Public Schools enjoy locally sourced fresh strawberries during the annual Strawberries and Salad Greens Day celebration this spring.

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! To learn more about FNS nutrition assistance efforts, follow us on twitter at twitter.com/usdanutrition

Read more »