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Category: Food and Nutrition

‘Dig In to Local School Meals;’ Maine Celebrates Farm to School with Local Harvest Week Menu Competition

Celebratory events in recognition of National Farm to School Month are taking place across the country, and in many forms! Here in the Northeast, the Maine Department of Education chose to develop and execute their first ever Maine Harvest Lunch Week Menu Contest.

Schools were invited to submit a menu from a meal that was served to students during the designated Maine Harvest Lunch Week in late September. The theme this year was “Dig In to Local School Meals,” and participating schools and districts did just that! Schools incorporated local items across the lunch tray in creative and appetizing ways. The menu and photos of students’ trays were submitted to the department to be considered in the contest. Stephanie Stambach coordinated the effort and said that she saw it as one way “to promote the use of local foods in our schools… and to recognize schools for the work they are currently doing with Farm to School.” Read more »

USDA Partners with DOD to Fight Childhood Obesity

Concannon (far left) with students from Walt Whitman Middle School at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Va., Sept. 18, 2014.

Concannon (far left) with students from Walt Whitman Middle School at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Va., Sept. 18, 2014.

Tackling the child obesity epidemic that holds so many health risks for our nation’s youngest members is an important responsibility.  Fortunately, USDA is not alone in this critical charge.

Sound nutrition plays an essential role in all aspects of a child’s life, including their ability to learn, grow and thrive in the classroom.  And since many children today consume half of their daily calories while at school, we want to ensure the healthy choice is the easy choice for them and their families.  Happily, we have partners that feel the same way. Read more »

WIC: The Foundation of Healthy Families Since 1974

Forty years ago, WIC was established to improve health outcomes for pregnant women, infants and young children.  Today, the program officially known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, continues to be one of the nation’s most successful, cost-effective and important nutrition intervention programs. USDA’s new infographic demonstrates why WIC Works for our children and for our country! Read more »

How USDA Celebrated National School Lunch Week

Last week, USDA celebrated National School Lunch Week from October 12 -18 with exciting local events across the country.  It was a chance for USDA staff to meet with students and hear what they think of the newer, fresher options in the lunch room.  It was also an opportunity for USDA officials to say “thank you” to the hardworking school food service professionals who make healthy school lunches possible.

Healthy meals at school are an essential part of every child’s health, development, and academic success.   Students’ ability to learn in the classroom, grow up healthy and reach their fullest potential depends on the environment they learn in.  And that is why Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, so that all our nation’s students can experience a healthier school environment with more nutritious options. Read more »

Organic 101: “Organic” in the Brand Name…Organic in the Package

By clarifying expectations for organic certifiers, USDA’s instruction ensures that all organic products are labeled consistently, assure consumers that all organic labeling requirements are being met and provide a fair market for all organic operations.

By clarifying expectations for organic certifiers, USDA’s instruction ensures that all organic products are labeled consistently, assure consumers that all organic labeling requirements are being met and provide a fair market for all organic operations.

This is the nineteenth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

When consumers see the word “organic” on a product package or label, they have expectations about what is inside the package.  The National Organic Program (NOP), part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), protects the integrity of the organic label by ensuring that organic producers and handlers meet consumer expectations.  The NOP recently published an instruction that will bring more clarity to products with brand names containing the word “organic.”

Organic products have strict production and labeling requirements.  They must be produced and handled by operations that are certified as complying with the USDA organic regulations; made without the use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge; and use substances allowed by the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List). Read more »

Happy Birthday! USDA Celebrates WIC Program Anniversary, Accomplishments

New moms participate in a group discussion with WIC counselor.

New moms participate in a group discussion with WIC counselor.

Birthdays are truly special occasions, celebrating a milestone of achievement. This week, USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (better known as WIC) celebrates the program’s 40th anniversary, highlighting four decades of helping improve the lives of millions of infants and children across America.

Since the first WIC clinic opened in Pineville, Ky., back in 1974, the program now provides services through almost 1,900 local agencies in all 50 states, 34 Tribal Organizations, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Read more »