Child at a school food pantry. Image provided by Feeding America.
During March, National Nutrition Month®, USDA will highlight various nutrition topics that are near and dear to our hearts. We don’t work on these issues alone however. This guest blog post acknowledges one USDA National Strategic Partner, Feeding America, for the outstanding work they do to address childhood hunger and food insecurity and promote MyPlate. Learn more below:
By Jessica Hager, MA in Social Service Administration, Nutrition Coordinator, Feeding America
Good nutrition, particularly in the first three years of one’s life, is important for establishing a good foundation that has implications for future physical and mental health, academic achievement and economic productivity. Unfortunately, food insecurity is an obstacle that threatens that critical foundation.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 15.9 million children—1 in 5—under the age of 18 in America live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life (Household Food Security in the United States in 2012. Table 1B.USDA ERS.) Additionally, Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2013 research found that 20 percent or more of the child population in each of 37 states and D.C. live in food-insecure households (Map the Meal Gap 2013, Feeding America).
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A favorite U.S. Forest Service book for kids is “Why Would Anyone Cut a Tree Down?” which explains to children that, yes, there are reasons to cut trees. (U.S. Forest Service)
The U.S. Government Bookstore, the place where you can buy the 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar for $20 or a loose-leaf copy of the Export Administration Regulation 2013 edition for $199, released its list of best-selling publications for 2013 that includes several items published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Why Would Anyone Cut A Tree Down?” is written by Roberta Burzynski, who works in the U.S. Forest Service’s Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry unit. The book shows children the life cycle of trees and how trees are a renewable resource. The 41-page book with 28 full-color illustrations can be used by parents and teachers along with online activities and lessons. Colorfully illustrated by Juliette Watts, the $10 book is ideal for parents, teachers and children. Burzynski also wrote the popular “Woodsy Owl’s ABCs” that is meant to be read by an adult to children. Read more »
Administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service Audrey Rowe engages elementary students from Sacramento Unified District on the importance of starting their day with a healthy breakfast.
To kickoff National Nutrition Month, USDA is again celebrating National School Breakfast Week (March 3 – 7) to support the health and well-being of our nation’s children. National Nutrition Month is the perfect time to highlight the essential role nutrition plays in sustaining healthier lives. A well-balanced breakfast serves as an important first step to a healthier life—and a healthier next generation!
The case for breakfast is a strong one. Research reveals that students who consume breakfast make greater strides on standardized tests, pay attention and behave better in class, and are less frequently tardy, absent or visiting the nurse’s office. Eating breakfast is also positively linked with maintaining a healthy weight – and avoiding health problems associated with obesity. Given the current rates of childhood obesity and related health problems, it’s vital for children and families to eat healthier meals and snacks throughout the day.
Studies also show that children who skip breakfast are at an academic disadvantage: They have slower memory recall, make more errors and are more likely to repeat a grade. Read more »
Kindergarteners, family members, and teachers from Grafton Street School in Worcester, MA touring the REC’s Organic Farm with Mass. Farm to School Project’s Kindergarten Initiative program.
Massachusetts Farm to School Project and the Worcester Public Schools are helping kindergarteners understand how and where food is grown. They are teaching children about nutrition through local food tastings, farm and farmer visits, cooking demonstrations and take home produce. The Worcester Kindergarten Initiative is running at nine elementary schools in Worcester, MA, for the 2013-2014 school year! We are pleased to share this piece from the Worcester Kindergarten Initiative Evaluation and Education Specialist, Isabel Burgess.
Guest post by Isabel Burgess, Worcester Kindergarten Initiative Evaluation and Education Specialist
“This is so cool! Our first ever farm!” These are the sounds of kindergartners from Worcester, MA stepping onto one of the Regional Environmental Council’s YouthGROW farms. The farm is small – a vacant lot sandwiched between triple-deckers – but the students are thrilled. They spend the morning taking a tour of the farm; hearing about the youth farmers that manage the space; taste-testing chard and collards straight from the soil; and planting seeds of their own. The family members that joined their children on the trip are also excited to explore. They cannot believe that the farm is there – smack in the middle of the city, so close to where they live. Read more »
Ally Buccanero, Shasta College student and volunteer, demonstrates how to make a bird feeder using a large pine cone and peanut butter during Shasta-Trinity National Forest’s annual Operation Christmas Tree event on Dec. 7. (U.S. Forest Service)
For some, it can be a bit challenging to get in the holiday spirit in Redding, Calif., because the area typically has warm winter temperatures. But this year, residents were treated to a Dec. 6 snowstorm, which offered the Shasta-Trinity National Forest a wintery-white backdrop for its annual Operation Christmas Tree event.
Working in partnership with Shasta County Youth and Families Foster Care, OneSAFE Place (a women’s refuge), and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center, the forest invited 62 local, disadvantaged youth on Dec. 7 to kick off their holiday season on the forest. Read more »
As a mother and a grandmother, and as a school nutrition professional who has served at the local, state and national levels, I know the unique challenges and rewards that come along with helping to raise children—particularly when it comes to good nutrition.
Feeding kids, and feeding them well, can be tough, but I am proud to say that with the strong support of parents, our schools are making a real difference in the health of our nation’s children.
We at USDA have been working closely with schools during the transition to the updated meals. We have listened to school nutrition professionals, teachers, administrators, parents and students themselves. We have made tweaks and changes to the new meals along the way, based on feedback from their real world experiences. Read more »