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Category: Food and Nutrition

Getting a School Garden Blooming

Administrator Audrey Rowe visiting the Young Women’s STEAM Academy at Balch Springs Middle School

Administrator Audrey Rowe visits the Young Women’s STEAM Academy at Balch Springs Middle School, where students established a school garden as part of their culinary arts program.

School gardens are gaining popularity across the country. In Texas, nearly 3,000 schools participate in farm to school activities. Some of these schools work with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Learn, Grow, Eat, and Go program. Jeff Raska, a school garden specialist with the AgriLife Extension, works with numerous programs and offers practical advice to schools establishing a school garden. Here, he discusses the importance of a strong school garden committee.

By Jeff Raska, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Dallas County Texas

A school vegetable garden can be a wonderful outdoor classroom for studying natural science. Having worked with school gardens on and off for more than 25 years, I have seen many great school garden programs bloom, and then fade as time passes and school priorities change. For the last seven years, I’ve had the privilege of working with school gardens as a 4-H Club program assistant for Dallas County and have had the benefit of seeing a wide range of needs and challenges that schools face when trying to start a garden. However, the most successful programs have a few important things in place. Read more »

Minneapolis School Embraces Family-Style Dining

A woman with students

Sarah, a regular Webster volunteer, enjoys joining kindergarten students for lunch.

How do you create a better lunch experience for students? It all started with a conversation between Ginger Davis Kranz, Principal of Webster Elementary School, and the Minneapolis Public Schools’ Director of Food Service, Bertrand Weber. In September 2016, I was fortunate enough to visit Webster Elementary School in Minneapolis and see for myself how their family-style dining works. I’d like to share Webster Principal Ginger Davis Kranz’s inspiring blog about her school’s innovative and thoughtful approach to the students’ mealtime experience.

By Ginger Davis Kranz, Principal of Webster Elementary School

What if school lunchtime was more than just a wait in line and a race to find a seat and eat, but instead was more like a traditional family meal – a time when friends gather to enjoy their food, engage in meaningful conversation, build relationships and gain important life skills? After reflecting on this question, Webster Elementary, a Minneapolis public school, made the decision to abandon the typical chaotic and impersonal lunchroom experience and create a family-style dining program. Read more »

Fighting Hunger: Closing the Summer Feeding Gap

A girl eating a peach

The Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer demonstration offers a new model to help close the summer feeding gap.

Summer is tough to enjoy when you’re hungry. It’s a hard reality that many kids from low-income households face when school is out and the weather turns sunny. To help close the summer feeding gap, the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer demonstration offers a new model to do just that.

Without the daily nutrition provided by the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, many families facing poverty are also experiencing its most difficult symptom: hunger. USDA has several tools to help solve this problem, with the newest addition being the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children demonstration project, commonly referred to as Summer EBT. Read more »

It’s Almost Time to Think about New Year’s Resolutions…Almost!

MyPlate, MyWins landing page

Visit the MyPlate, MyWins landing page on December 28, 2016 to discover healthy eating solutions for 2017!

The holiday season is a wonderful, exciting, and incredibly busy time.  Between the celebrations, family gatherings, and the food (so much food!), healthy eating isn’t likely the first thing on your mind. And that’s OK.

In a few short weeks, many of us will be turning our attention to the new year. What will 2017 bring? What are our personal goals for the year?  Every January there is an overload of information about New Year’s resolutions, and many people will set goals that focus on health, fitness, and nutrition.  But while we often set high hopes on January 1, less than half are still committed to accomplishing our resolutions months later. Read more »

SNAP E&T Boosts Job Skills, Transforms Lives

Administrator Rowe speaking with an attendee at the Jobs NOW! event in San Francisco

Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Audrey Rowe (left) speaks with an attendee at the Jobs NOW! event in San Francisco. Photo courtesy: Barbara Utuchian, FNS

On a recent trip to California,  I took part in a wonderful event in San Francisco’s Mission District – also known as “The Mission” – one of the most racially and economically diverse areas in the nation.  After parking the car, Jesus Mendoza Jr., Regional Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service’s Western Region, escorted me to a room buzzing with activity and excitement. Now given my role as Administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), you might expect that we were visiting a food bank or a meal program for low-income children.

But this visit wasn’t about food.

It was about jobs! Read more »

Taking Action for School Nutrition Success

Calhoun and Orangeburg food service staff show off school menu items

Calhoun and Orangeburg food service staff show off school menu items during their hands-on Salt-Free Seasonings Training Class.

Developing a school menu of healthy, student-approved meals is challenging, make no mistake about it.  But it is achievable with the right support and resources.  That’s why the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) have partnered to create the Team Up for School Nutrition Success (Team Up) initiative.

Team Up provides school nutrition professionals the opportunity to network and learn best practices from their peers.  Those who have developed tips and tricks to create delicious school menus, increase participation, practice food safety and manage financially-sound program budgets. And with the help and guidance of peer mentors, Team Up attendees can turn their ideas into goals by creating focused action plans for their district. Read more »