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Farm-to-School and School Nutrition Programs: Dedicated to Serving Healthy Fresh Food

Dunbar Elementary School students enjoying fresh, local strawberries during Delaware's Strawberry week.

Dunbar Elementary School students enjoying fresh, local strawberries during Delaware's Strawberry week.

The following guest blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting the efforts of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country.  We thank them for sharing their stories!

By Nancy R. Mears, Supervisor of School Nutrition, Delaware

Farm to School (F2S) means different things to different people depending on where you live in the country. In Delaware, utilizing F2S to source local produce allows Laurel School District to meet the fruit and vegetable requirements of the new meal pattern outlined by federal guidelines for school meals. With a little creativity, we found these guidelines can be met with this valuable resource.

Delaware’s Farm to School Program unifies 19 school districts and assists all schools in purchasing local products. F2S is an economic benefit to Delaware farmers, as well as its economy and agricultural industry. Read more »

Federal Employees Help to Knock Out Hunger

AMS Deputy Associate Administrator Karen Comfort, Feds Feeds Families’ 2014 National Program Manager, tells the crowd that the campaign delivered 14.8 million pounds of donated food that went to food banks and pantries across the country.

AMS Deputy Associate Administrator Karen Comfort, Feds Feeds Families’ 2014 National Program Manager, tells the crowd that the campaign delivered 14.8 million pounds of donated food that went to food banks and pantries across the country.

When I became National Program Manager for the 2014 Feds Feeds Families campaign—the sixth annual, nationwide food drive of Federal employees—I challenged Federal employees nationwide to help knock out hunger by supporting this year’s initiative.  I had every confidence that our Nation’s civil servants would step up in a huge way.  Feds have a tradition of generosity and answering the call whenever, wherever, and however they are needed.  Even so, this year’s results far exceeded my expectations:  14.8 million pounds of donated food went to food banks and pantries across the country.  That’s 7,400 tons of food this year.

Since 2009, the campaign has donated almost 39 million pounds of food to families and individuals in need.  All Federal agencies across the country participated.  Federal employees donated both perishable and non-perishable food items throughout the summer.  This year Feds Feed Families also encouraged employees to take advantage of gleaning (clearing fields of unused produce). Read more »

Variety and Consistency are the Pillars to CentroNia’s “Eat Healthy, Live Healthy” Program

A student from DC Bilingual Public Charter School enjoys a taco.

A student from DC Bilingual Public Charter School enjoys a taco.

The following guest blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting the efforts of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country. We thank them for sharing their stories!

By Bea Zuluaga, Food and Nutrition Director, CentroNía/DC Bilingual Public Charter School, Washington, DC

Children living in Washington, D.C., and across the country spend a large part of their day in school and rely heavily on their educational institutions for nourishment. As educators, it is imperative that we expose children to a variety of healthy, nutrient-rich foods early on in their development, and CentroNía does just that! We prepare various meals and snacks to support children’s learning thanks to programs such as the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010.

With more than 260 employees who serve 2,500 children, youth, and families in the District of Columbia and Maryland, CentroNía’s mission is to educate children and youth, and strengthen families in a bilingual, multicultural community. We cook meals and prepare snacks on the premises that incorporate whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, more vegetarian proteins and local produce.  By eliminating processed foods and juices from our institution, we drastically reduced the sugar and sodium on our menus. Read more »

National School Lunch Week Offers a Time to Celebrate Children’s Health

On Friday, President Obama recognized October 12-18 as National School Lunch Week with an official proclamation.  The message thanks hardworking school food service professionals, the tireless staff who demonstrate a daily commitment to providing schoolchildren with proper nutrition to enrich their lives in the classroom and beyond.

Since President Harry Truman signed the National School Lunch Act in 1946, schools have served more than 220 billion lunches!  Meals that have enabled scores of American children the opportunity to grow, learn and thrive.  And with more than 30 million students participating in the National School Lunch Program each day, balanced meals at school play a key role in fostering a healthier next generation. Read more »

An Alabama Family Farm Helps Send Cleaner Water to the Gulf of Mexico

Tim Mullek and his family, who grow cotton, peanuts, soybeans, wheat, and corn on about 2,500 acres in the Fish River watershed in Alabama, plant cover crops on all of their cropland. NRCS photo.

Tim Mullek and his family, who grow cotton, peanuts, soybeans, wheat, and corn on about 2,500 acres in the Fish River watershed in Alabama, plant cover crops on all of their cropland. NRCS photo.

Days before planting season in April, up to 26 inches of rain had fallen in southern Alabama over a span of two days. This rain event caused historic flooding in Baldwin County in a coastal part of the state, where farmers had freshly tilled fields in preparation for planting crops.

These tilled fields lost valuable topsoil during the flood. But the outcome was different for Tim Mullek and his family, who grow cotton, peanuts, soybeans, wheat and corn on about 2,500 acres in the Fish River watershed, located about 20 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Read more »

An Opportunity for Colorado Rural Small Business to Connect with USDA

In support of the Obama Administration’s efforts to put Americans back to work and create an economy built to last, the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization will host Rural Small Business Connections, a training event to provide small businesses with educational networking sessions and opportunities on how to successfully do business with USDA and other Federal agencies.

Rural Small Business Connections is designed to provide small businesses and small farmer-owned cooperatives with the exposure and insight to increase small business contracting participation with the Federal government.  Conference attendees will have an opportunity to participate in a full day of learning discussions led by program and small business procurement officials from USDA, and other Federal agencies. Read more »