Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

School Lunch Equipment Grants Help Provide Healthier Meals to Students Nationwide

Flowing Wells employee using the oven unit

Flowing Wells employee use the oven unit they bought with NSLP equipment grants funds.

USDA supports our tireless school nutrition professionals as they work to provide kids the nutrition they need to learn and develop into healthy adults. To further assist schools, USDA announced the availability of $25 million in National School Lunch Program (NSLP) equipment grants for Fiscal Year 2015. These grants help schools obtain much needed infrastructure to better serve nutritious meals, support food safety efforts, improve energy efficiency, and expand participation in school nutrition programs.

Here are some examples of how these grants have benefitted schools in the past: Read more »

Washington Woman Inspired to Grow Out on Her Own

Elsa Torres with her father

Elsa Torres’ father, Jose, inspired her to buy an orchard and farm on her own.

For Elsa Torres, farming is more than just a job or a livelihood. It’s an inspiration.

Ever since she was a young girl, Elsa can remember working in orchard fields with her father, Jose Torres. It was something she loved and cherished. “My father is the person I admire the most,” said Elsa. “He came from Mexico with nothing and for 25 years he worked on an orchard that he now owns. He didn’t start out with a formal education.  But now he’s a business owner.  He’s an example of the American dream and how someone who works hard can become a success.” Read more »

School Breakfast Program Provides Increasing Number of Meals

Average Daily School Breakfast Participants, 1975-2014 chart

ERS’s Charts of Note series, like the above, provides daily snapshots of highlights from current and previous research on food assistance and other topics. Each provides a graph or map with accompanying text.

Sometimes called the “most important meal of the day” for school-aged children, breakfast is available at nearly 90,000 schools across the country courtesy of USDA’s School Breakfast Program. On an average school day in fiscal 2014, some 13.5 million students participated. The Economic Research Service (ERS) illustrates the growth of the program in a new entry in its popular daily “Charts of Note” series. As the chart indicates, participation has more than doubled since 1996.

The School Breakfast Program, permanently authorized in 1975, is newer than the arguably-more-renowned National School Lunch Program, established nearly three decades earlier in 1946. The statistics tell an interesting story. Throughout the history of the School Breakfast Program, the number of participating children was considerably smaller than in the National School Lunch Program and is still less than half. Nevertheless, as the breakfast program funding increased—and grants to schools to help start up the program became more available—the number of schools participating in the breakfast program has steadily grown, making it available to more students. Read more »

Student Climate and Conservation Congress: Bright Young Minds

Woodsy Owl with Sc3 students

Woodsy Owl joins Sc3 students in a river ecology conservation adventure.

This year, for the first time, the Forest Service partnered with the Green School Alliance and their principle partner the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in support of the Student Climate and Conservation Congress (Sc3).  Held June 21-27 on the beautiful campus of the FWS’s National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Sc3 brought together more than 100 creative, innovative and dedicated high school students from across the country.  While there were adults present if needed, Sc3 was a youth driven congress.  Their big quest “To change everything, we need everybody.  How will you engage others in developing a brighter and more just global community?”

For the Forest Service the Sc3 was a great opportunity to look through the eyes of youth as they prepare for their generation’s leadership role in addressing the challenges of a changing climate.  As shared by Dr. Douglas Boyce, Acting Climate Change Advisor, “I was particularly impressed with the students’ depth of knowledge and grasp of issues surrounding climate change.  Dealing daily with the problems associated with climate change, I found hope for the future because I learned these students are engaged, passionate, and poised to help society tackle and solve the mounting number of significant and challenging climate change issues.” Read more »

What’s Shaking in School Meals?

What's Shaking infographic

USDA’s What’s Shaking? resources offer creative ways to boost flavor with less sodium. (Click to enlarge)

What’s shaking in USDA’s school meals programs?  Delicious and nutritious food, that’s what!  Healthy food does not have to be bland or boring.  There’s more to creating a tasty meal than just dousing food in dressing or layering on salty sauces.  It’s easy to make your dish pop without adding excess sodium.  Many schools around the country have figured out creative ways to serve low-sodium meals that maximize taste.  So what can you do this school year to “spice” things up and take school meals to the next level? Read more »

The Nuna Bean: ‘Power Popper’ Has Funny Name, Serious Nutritional Benefits

Nuña beans

Nuña beans. USDA-ARS photo.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Indigenous people of the Andes Mountains in South America have farmed the nuña bean (a.k.a. “Peruvian Popping bean”) as a staple crop for centuries. Its colorful, nutty-flavored seed is especially prized for its tendency to pop open when roasted—a cooking method that requires less firewood than boiling in fuel-scarce regions.

At the Agricultural Research Service’s Western Regional Plant Introduction Station in Pullman, Washington, plant geneticist Ted Kisha curates an edible dry bean collection that includes 91 accessions of high-altitude nuña beans grown by Andean farmers in Peru, the origin for this legume member of the Phaseolus vulgaris family. Read more »