The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation encourages parents to make a date with their child to eat a healthy school lunch. (Click to view a larger version)
More than 50 million children around the country attend schools that participate in USDA’s National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Programs. And not only are their meals full of nutritious ingredients – with 99 percent of schools nationwide reporting that they are successfully meeting the updated nutrition standards – their entire learning environment fosters healthy habits now and throughout the rest of their lives. During National School Lunch Week 2016, USDA and partners like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, are celebrating this progress.
It’s National School Lunch Week and this year we have more to celebrate than ever before!
Over the past decade, significant policy changes have sparked a national movement that has transformed the school nutrition landscape and created a new healthier era for school foods. Many of these policies were initiated by USDA, including updated nutrition standards for the meals and snacks schools offer, as well as updated requirements for local wellness policies.
Thanks to these developments and incredible efforts by schools to put them in place, millions of students across America not only have healthier meals, snacks, and drinks at school – they’re also learning healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Read more »
Taste preferences and eating habits are formed early in a child’s life, making CACFP a critical part of establishing healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
Through its 15 nutrition assistance programs, USDA strives to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans. The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides aid to child and adult care centers and family or group day care homes for the provision of nutritious foods that contribute to the wellness, healthy growth, and development of young children and the health and wellness of older adults and chronically impaired disabled persons. CACFP administrators and program operators receive support from many advocacy organizations who help ensure children and adults participating in CACFP receive nutritious meals. Below is a story from one of those advocacy organizations, the Child Care Food Program Roundtable.
By Chris Clark, Child Care Food Program Roundtable
In 2015, First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative to end childhood obesity, Let’s Move!, celebrated its fifth anniversary. To mark the occasion, she issued the #GimmeFive challenge which encouraged all Americans to do five things to lead a healthier lifestyle. The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) community heard this call to action and developed its own CACFP Take ACTION Challenge. That Challenge was launched at the 2015 CCFP Roundtable Conference, where over 500 conference attendees got up, got moving and performed the #GimmeFive Dance! Read more »
Students in the Maine iCook 4-H program learn healthy eating and food preparation habits. (Adrienne White, University of Maine)
Since the economic downturn of 2008, sufficient access to healthy foods has been a serious problem for many Americans. As a result, more than 17 million households confront hunger throughout the year while more than 12 million children are obese.
To address these problems, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has worked with five other USDA agencies to develop science-based food and nutrition strategies. These agencies joined the Interagency Committee on Human Nutrition Research – a collaboration among the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Health and Human Services and several other government agencies – to develop the National Nutrition Research Roadmap (NNRR). This roadmap characterizes and coordinates federally funded nutrition research to identify future research needs and opportunities. Read more »
Agricultural Research Service scientists are studying the relationship between eating behaviors and cognitive control as an avenue to address childhood obesity. ARS photo by Scott Bauer.
American children are gaining weight. Obesity now affects one in six children and adolescents in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s a major concern because extra pounds can increase risk for developing serious health problems in children, including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
While strategies to reduce childhood obesity include improving diet and increasing exercise, USDA scientists are looking for ways to prevent behaviors in children that may lead to obesity. Nutritionist Kevin Laugero, who works at the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, California, recently investigated the relationship between obesity, unhealthy eating behaviors and decreased mental skills in 3- to 6-year-olds. Read more »
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation (“The Alliance”) was founded as a response to the growing rate of childhood obesity. To combat this epidemic and to help make the healthy choice the easy choice, the Alliance created the Healthy Schools Program in 2006, launched in 231 schools in 13 states. The Healthy Schools Program has since grown to become the nation’s most extensive effort to prevent childhood obesity in schools and is now building healthier school environments for more than 17 million students in more than 29,000 schools in every state and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
By Jill Turley, MS, RD/LD and Joshua Moore of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Produce is packed full of the nutrients youth need to learn and play, whether at school, in an out-of-school time program, or at home. Children should be exposed to a variety of fruits and vegetables to help ensure these products are what come to mind when reaching for a snack.
Innovations in the produce industry can help with just that! The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, in collaboration with the United Fresh Produce Association, has identified several kid-friendly, single-serve, fresh produce snacks that meet USDA’s Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards and offer easy, delicious snack options for schools or out-of-school time programs. Read more »
The Ninos Sanos, Familia Sana program uses NIFA-administered grant funds to teach a new culture of healthy living to residents of Firebaugh, Calif. (Poster courtesy of Elizabeth Bishay)
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.
What started as a project to test the effectiveness of childhood obesity prevention methods has turned into a community-wide effort and a new culture of health for families in Firebaugh, California. Read more »