Food service staff at a Delaware high school serves up a local lunch, including kale from the school farm.
Along with brilliantly colored hard squash, crisp apples, and hearty greens, October ushers in National Farm to School Month, a time to raise awareness about and celebrate the impact of farm to school programs on children, producers, and communities. Since 2012, I have directed USDA’s Farm to School Program, guiding the work of a small but enthusiastic team at the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Each October, we have more to celebrate: more USDA funds awarded to schools, agencies, and organizations to advance these programs; more money ending up in the pockets of local producers; more school gardens in which students can learn and grow; and more healthful school meals that feature local foods.
A new report, announced by Agriculture Secretary Vilsack earlier this month, helps quantify our celebration. An analysis of grant-making over the last three years reveals that USDA has awarded $15.1 million through 221 grants in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Fifty percent of funded projects included expanding healthy menu options offered in the cafeteria; 46 percent included training for food service staff about menu planning, meal preparation, and cooking with local and regional foods; and 65 percent included nutrition education activities. These funds have helped 12,300 schools improve nutritious meal options made with local ingredients for 6.9 million students, while expanding market opportunities for family farmers and ranchers in their communities. Read more »
USDA programs like CACFP help improve access to food and healthful diets for millions of Americans.
During National Nutrition Month, we’re excited to highlight the many ways federal nutrition assistance programs benefit vulnerable Americans.
At USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, we often get the chance to discuss how WIC and our school lunch and breakfast programs boost the nutritional lives of millions. But did you know that each day our Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides over 3.3 million children and 120,000 adults nutritious meals and snacks that contribute to their wellness, healthy growth and development? Read more »
USDA wants the public to know about the resources available to their families following a disaster or emergency.
Ensuring our Nation’s children and families in need have access to healthy meals is a priority at USDA and that promise is of particular emphasis during times of disaster or emergency. Throughout National Preparedness Month this September, USDA recognizes the importance of being ready and wants the public to know the resources available to them during a time of great need.
When disasters strike, it’s not only important for you and your family to be prepared, it’s also critical that your community be prepared. USDA supports local communities by providing access to healthy meals in emergency situations. Schools, emergency shelters, and summer sites that operate the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Food, or Summer Food Service programs may provide access to healthy meals for children in such events. Child care institutions may also serve as emergency shelters in a disaster situation. Read more »
Sarah Adler, Nevada USDA Rural Development State Director, facilitates discussion between Federal, State, food bank, and Tribal partners. Photo credit to Jenny Taylor, Nevada USDA Rural Development.
Today in Nevada more than one in four children (28 percent) live in households that cannot reliably provide nutritious meals every day. This dubious distinction makes it the state with the nation’s fourth highest rate of child hunger. And for children living on Indian reservations, the incidence of hunger may be even higher.
What does food insecurity look like on Nevada reservations? With few places to shop, reservation residents have very limited access to fresh produce. Food insecurity not only equates to a lack of nutritious foods available, but also means families must drive great distances to a grocery store. To cope, families choose more canned and frozen foods that will last until the next weekly or monthly shopping trip, which often means less consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Read more »
Children in Baltimore enjoy healthy offerings at one of the city’s summer meals sites.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service partners serve a vital role in the success of the federal Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). These important relationships are critical to helping operate and expand summer meals and sites so that no child or teen goes hungry when school is out.
Evaluating their best practices and listening to their anecdotes confirms that kids truly depend on these healthy meals over the course of the summer. During the first day of the summer feeding program, the Hopkins County Family YMCA in Kentucky served over 500 meals. But that’s not the only difference they made that day. The director was at the store picking up supplies, when the cashier asked about her purchase. The director explained the details of the program and the woman’s eyes filled with tears, as she relayed that her husband just lost his job and the family had become desperate. She was put at ease knowing that the Summer Food Service Program will be available to feed her children this summer. Read more »
Recent studies indicate that obesity rates among young children are finally starting to decline.
USDA believes in giving children a foundation for life-long health through access to healthy food and quality nutrition education. So, that’s why we are encouraged by a couple of recent studies that indicate that the rates of obesity among young children are declining. One study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that rates of obesity among young children ages 2-5 years have declined in the last decade, while another found that obesity is declining in low-income preschoolers in 19 states. These results suggest that we are making progress in our efforts to improve the health of our next generation! These findings were noted by Dr. Bill Dietz, former Director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity during his presentation at the 3rd meeting of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on March 14, 2014.
Efforts to turn the tide of obesity, both within the Federal government and in communities across the country, are having an impact in the preschool population. The USDA’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services programs are an important part of these efforts. Through the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, USDA is making critical changes to the foods available to children – even the picky eaters. Read more »