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Category: Food and Nutrition

New What’s Cooking? Recipes and Cooking Videos Help School Food Service and Home Cooks Make Mouthwatering Meals

Sesame Asian Noodle Chicken Salad

Sesame Asian Noodle Chicken Salad; a new USDA recipe just posted!

USDA’s Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services just released 50 new, mouth-watering recipes for schools chefs on our What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl website.  Some are existing USDA recipes that we’ve updated, while others are brand new recipes that students will love.  These tasty, kid-approved recipes are tailored for large quantity food service operations in 25, 50, or 100 portions.  And each recipe includes a nutritional breakdown as well as crediting information on how the recipe contributes toward updated meal pattern requirements for the National School Lunch Program and other USDA child nutrition programs.

The 50 recipes include main dishes and side dishes featuring more nutrient-rich ingredients such as whole grains, dark green and red/orange vegetables, and beans/legumes than ever before.  And an additional 150 recipes are being developed and will be posted throughout the next year!  These recipes will provide a ready-to-go resource for school nutrition professionals looking for delicious, nutrient-rich dishes that will make it easy to meet meal pattern requirements and satisfy hungry kids. Read more »

New GroupGAP Certification Brings New Opportunities for the Produce Industry

A National School Lunch Week event at Nottingham Elementary School

From salad greens to fresh blueberries, local food is showing up everywhere from grocery stores to our kids’ school lunch plates. Helping the produce industry meet this local food demand and to meet the requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) now offers a new GroupGAP certification program for smaller growers. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Excitement is building in the produce industry.  From salad greens to roasted beets to fresh blueberries, local food is showing up on grocery stores shelves, as new features on restaurants menus and on our kids’ school lunch plates.  The increased demand for local food is creating more opportunities for farmers, ranchers and producers. While exploring new ways to meet the demand, the produce industry is also keeping an eye on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

To help producers meet the requirements of FSMA, one of the most important services USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) provides is our Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification. That’s why we’re launching a new GroupGAP certification program that allows smaller growers and producers to band together to become certified as a group. We are working closely with FDA to align our GAP and GroupGAP programs with FSMA requirements so that as FSMA takes effect, certified growers will know they are meeting the new requirements. Read more »

Variety is Key When Serving Grains

Oats, barley, and other grains

Oats, barley, and other grains. USDA photo by Peggy Greb.

The programs within USDA’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services (FNCS) strive to provide Americans with the assistance and information they need to maintain healthy lifestyles.

In achieving that mission, FNCS relies heavily on the advice of experts, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Recently, the level of arsenic in rice has received increased attention, and FDA has proposed a maximum allowable level of arsenic in infant rice cereal products. Because of the new proposed guidance issued by FDA, which is open to public comment now, USDA is working to assist growers and processors wishing to utilize their products for infant rice cereal to ensure that their rice does not contain amounts of arsenic that surpass the new limit of 100 parts per billion (ppb). Read more »

SNAP-Ed Helps Spur Healthy Choices

A family making food

SNAP-Ed provides shoppers with the information they need to make healthy food and lifestyle choices.

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

Encouraging all Americans to make healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices is a top priority for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). One of the most important ways we do that is through nutrition education provided by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

SNAP-Ed delivers evidence-based, coordinated nutrition education and obesity prevention services and information to people participating in SNAP, as well as other eligible low-income families and communities.  Activities provided through SNAP-Ed encourage physical activity, work to improve nutrition, and prevent obesity.  These activities may include: Read more »

A Visitor’s Perspective: What Everyone Should Know about USDA and their Impact on Nutrition

Under Secretary Kevin Concannon taking a photo of his lunch mates at Arcola Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md.

Under Secretary Kevin Concannon takes a photo of his lunch mates at Arcola Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md.

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

Until 6 months ago, I was a typical academic. I spent most of my time doing research on obesity. Apart from a few years in consulting between college and graduate school, my entire career has been in a university. Since so much of my research aims to inform policy, I decided it was time for me to see how decisions actually get made. This past summer, I had the good fortune of being selected to the White House Fellowship – a fantastic year-long program which provides an intimate view of federal policy making. Each fellow is placed in the executive branch, and my home for this year is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). At USDA, I work as a Senior Policy Advisor to Under Secretary Kevin Concannon in Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. This is a great fit for me since USDA – among other things – oversees the suite of federal nutrition assistance programs that help low-income families (including mine when I was a young child) put food on the table in times of need.

To be frank, I thought I would love the experience and hate government. From my outsider perspective, government seemed clunky, inefficient and bloated with too many people doing redundant work. I was completely wrong. Read more »

Helping Kids Stay Active and Healthy This Summer

Kids and a man drawing on the Eat Your Colors theme

Creative themes and fun games help summer meal sites offer nutrition education and active games.

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

With summer just around the corner, it’s the perfect time for communities and parents to start thinking about activities for kids when school is out.  With deliciously juicy local fruits and veggies coming into season and, in many areas, warmer weather that invites summer play, it may seem logical that keeping kids healthy would be easier during summer months. However, without the structure of school and afterschool sports, those lazy summer days can sometimes lead to constant snacking and endless hours playing video games and watching TV.

For some children, the summer months can mean food insecurity because they no longer have access to regular school meals. That’s where summer meal programs can help, not only by offering free healthy meals, but also by providing opportunities for nutrition education and physical activity. Read more »