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Category: Food and Nutrition

A Student’s Perspective: How Fuel Up to Play 60 Supports Farm to School

Andrew's school garden

The garden at Andrew’s school!

This post was written by Andrew, a Wisconsin seventh-grader and Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Ambassador. Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by National Dairy Council and NFL, in collaboration with USDA, to help encourage young people to lead healthier lives.

Guest Post by Andrew, a Wisconsin 7th Grader

I am a student ambassador (for Fuel Up to Play 60) at my middle school in Wisconsin. I live in a dairy state. We have a lot of farms. In the short six mile drive from my house to school, I go by seven farms! There are also some green thumb farmers in our school. That is why we have our very own school garden. Our gardens have 22 garden beds that are planted with different fruits and vegetables in them. With those fruits and vegetables, we can harvest them for our schools so we can eat them! Read more »

Nationwide Census on Farm to School Activities Shows Increased Use of Local Foods in Schools


School districts have until Friday, November 20, to update or submit new Farm to School Census data!

School districts have until Friday, November 20, to update or submit new Farm to School Census data!

What can $598 million buy you these days? A lot of local food!  

 This week, USDA announced early results from USDA’s second Farm to School Census indicating that school districts across the country invested more than half a billion dollars in local foods in the 2013-2014 school year. That represents an increase of $212 million (or 55 percent) over final results from the last census, conducted two years ago. Read more »

Fueling our Future, from Wood to Wing

A $39.6 million grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is helping turn forest byproducts into biofuel.  (Courtesy of NARA)

A $39.6 million grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is helping turn forest byproducts into biofuel. (Courtesy of NARA)

U.S. airline carriers collectively used more than 16 billion gallons of jet fuel in 2014. Given growing concerns over energy independence and the environment, commercial airlines are looking for secure and reliable alternative jet fuels that reduce global emissions.

To address this problem, researchers at Washington State University formed the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) with biofuels company Gevo, Alaska Airlines, and several other partners across academia, industry, and government. As a result of NARA’s efforts, made possible by a $39.6 million grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Alaska Airlines is planning to use 1,000 gallons of NARA-produced biofuel in a demonstration flight scheduled for 2016. Read more »

How Can We Support Affordable, Nutritious Diets? Reduce Wasted Food

Let's Talk Trash infographic

“Let’s Talk Trash” raises awareness about food waste and provides tips to help consumers reduce food waste at home. (Click to enlarge)

Looking for a way to stretch your food dollars?  Would an extra $30 per month for each person in your household help?  That’s about $370 per person per year, or almost $1,500 for a family of four.  That’s the amount of money USDA estimates the average American spends on food that’s not eaten.  It is the equivalent of approximately 2 months’ worth of groceries in a year. 

Reducing food loss and waste is an important part of maximizing household budgets. USDA has initiated a number of projects to help consumers reduce wasted food and improve overall nutrition.  Most recently, USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) launched a new section on to raise awareness about how much edible food is wasted nationwide, along with a range of resources supporting food waste reduction efforts, including a new infographic titled “Let’s Talk Trash. There are also tips on ways to reduce food waste at home. Read more »

Wisconsin Team Nutrition’s Whipping Up Wellness, Wisconsin Student Chef Competition

Fresh fruits and vegetables in a high school cafeteria

Fresh fruits and vegetables in a high school cafeteria.

The Team Nutrition Training Grants are awarded as part of USDA’s Team Nutrition initiative, which provides resources, training, and nutrition education lessons for schools and child care providers. And this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Team Nutrition initiative.  Wisconsin Team Nutrition has used the funding to build out their healthy cooking contest for the states’ middle and high school students.

By Kelly Williams, RDN, CD, and Alicia Dill, RDN, CD, CDE; Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, School Nutrition Team

Thanks to funding from a USDA Team Nutrition Training Grant, Wisconsin Team Nutrition has been able to expand its interactive cooking contest, Whipping Up Wellness, Wisconsin Student Chef Competition. Now in its third year, this popular contest combines the excitement of competition with the principles of healthy eating, while creating an engaging opportunity for nutrition education. Read more »

Colorado Team Nutrition Makes School Wellness a Success

Two kids writing on paper

As part of their wellness training, CDE educated 111 participants on local school wellness policies and how to include students in their wellness activities.

The following guest blog describes how one state education department used a USDA Team Nutrition grant to develop training to help schools implement programs that promote student wellness and to meet updated meal standards.

By Heather Hauswirth, RD, Program Specialist, Office of School Nutrition, Colorado Department of Education  

In September 2014, our office, the Colorado Department of Education Office of School Nutrition, was awarded a Team Nutrition Training Grant from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to implement statewide school wellness training. Read more »