When school is out during the summer months and children are no longer receiving breakfast and lunch at school, many families struggle to feed their children nutritious meals each and every day.
As a mother and grandmother, I understand the importance of ensuring that America’s children are provided with nutritious meals every day. My grandchildren, who are 5 and 8, are just like all children – infinitely curious and filled with energy, love, and joy. Young children should be playing and learning — not worried about where their next meal will come from. But for many children, school meals are their only source of nutrition, which is why USDA’s Summer Meals Programs are so important.
Summer Meals provide kids with the nutrition they need when school is out, and a safe haven where they can play and learn to keep their minds and bodies active during the summer months. The availability of these meals, which are served at no cost to children 18 and under, also reduces the financial burden on caretakers when school is out of session. Read more »
The “California Wrap” was served at many districts across Contra Costa County, a strategy that allows them to purchase collectively on California Thursdays.
June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month! To celebrate this, we’re showcasing the important work of California Thursdays, a collaboration between the Center for Ecoliteracy and a network of public school districts to serve healthy, freshly prepared school meals made from California-grown food. The following guest blog also highlights the inspiring work of the Center for Ecoliteracy, a partner with USDA’s national sodium reduction in schools-initiative, What’s Shaking? Creative Ways to Boost Flavor with Less Sodium.
By Jennifer Gerard, R.D., Center for Ecoliteracy, California Food for California Kids Program Director
What’s your favorite day of the week? For many students in California — it’s Thursday.
On Thursdays, over 1.7 million students in schools that participate in the California Thursdays program know they’ll be offered a lunch freshly prepared from California ingredients. California Thursdays is a celebration of local food, the people who produce and prepare it, and the significant connections that exist between children, food, and their environment. Read more »
School lunch staff and students enjoy the new school lunch menu created to meet the new standards at the Yorkshire Elementary School in Manassas, VA.
It may seem like common sense for child nutrition programs to benefit children, but some see it differently today.
Nationwide, schools have made the lunchroom a healthy environment. In fact, in only the second school year of full implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), over 98 percent of schools participating are already meeting the healthier meal standards. Students are eating more fruits and vegetables during the school day and more low-income children are eating nutritious breakfasts and lunches at school. And data show obesity rates for some children are leveling off. With all the success of HHFKA, now is not the time to intentionally go backwards on nutrition standards in healthier school meals and to block access to these meals for millions of children. Read more »
FNS’ initial response includes providing USDA Foods to disaster relief organizations. This include a variety of canned, fresh, frozen and dry products including fruits, vegetables, meats, and whole grains.
Twice a year, as part of America’s PrepareAthon!, USDA works closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as well as with other Federal, state and local partners to promote emergency preparedness. 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.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) ensures people have access to nutritious food when they find themselves suddenly in need of assistance following a storm, earthquake, flood or other disaster emergency. Oftentimes after a disaster, retail food stores are closed making it impossible for families to get the food they need. Even after stores reopen, disaster survivors often still are recovering financially which makes buying food difficult. FNS programs are there to help in those circumstances. Read more »
4-H Delegates learn about Team Nutrition resources as nutrition education tools to take back to their schools and communities.
One key strategy in helping schools serve nutritious and appealing meals that students will eat is to simply ask, “What do you need?”
On April 9, USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) asked this simple yet compelling question to nearly 40 4-H delegates at the 2016 National 4-H Conference in Chevy Chase, Md. USDA FNS hosted the roundtable session, “Healthy Eating in Schools: A Dialogue with USDA Food & Nutrition Service,” in an effort to give eager student leaders a chance to share their views on school meals and healthy eating. Participants came from all across the U.S. states and territories, from Nebraska to North Carolina, and as far away as Puerto Rico and a U.S. Air Force base in Japan. Read more »
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 »