Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Posts tagged: children

The Kindergarten Initiative: Connecting Students and their Families to the Worcester Food Environment

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.

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 »

Shasta-Trinity National Forest Brings Christmas Cheer to Disadvantaged Youth

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)

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 »

USDA Makes Meat and Grain Serving Flexibilities Permanent

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 »

Helping Schools Build Better Cafeterias

Food service professionals from Arlington Public Schools discuss the day’s lunch service of Baja Fish Taco Wraps, Turkey Hot Dogs, Cherry Tomatoes w/dip, Baked Beans and Fresh Fruit for Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia. The National School Lunch Program operates in public, nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions, providing nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. USDA Photo by Bob Nichols.

Food service professionals from Arlington Public Schools discuss the day’s lunch service of Baja Fish Taco Wraps, Turkey Hot Dogs, Cherry Tomatoes w/dip, Baked Beans and Fresh Fruit for Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia. The National School Lunch Program operates in public, nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions, providing nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. USDA Photo by Bob Nichols.

As a former school nutrition director, I am amazed when I visit schools around the country and repeatedly witness students clamoring for items like baked kale chips—who would have ever thought that was possible?  Truly, schools have done an absolutely tremendous job of implementing the new meal standards resulting from the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. I am so proud of all that our nation’s school nutrition professionals have done to provide healthier, tasty meals to the millions of children who eat breakfast, lunch and snacks at school each day.

While schools have made—and continue to make—great strides across the whole realm of school nutrition, they are still facing challenges in meeting their goals.  In particular, many schools across the country do not have appropriate or adequate kitchen equipment.  The need for updated equipment is well-documented, most recently by a new Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project report entitled, “Serving Healthy Meals:  U.S. Schools Need Updated Kitchen Equipment,” and ranges from cutting boards to refrigerator space.  While some schools still need a significant investment in updated and upgraded equipment, many of the needs are simple and could cost as little as $32 to remedy! Read more »

Giving the Gift of a Healthier Future this Holiday Season

The following OpEd was posted by Huffington Post this afternoon:

No one should go hungry in America, and certainly no child should go hungry, especially at the holidays.

We know kids who have access to proper nutrition and develop healthy habits at an early age have a competitive advantage in the classroom and later in life. Without easy access to healthy food, kids have a harder time growing up healthy, strong and ready for the workforce. Read more »

Farm to School Programs Can Get Kids Familiar with Healthy Foods

Introducing students to healthy foods early on through farm to school programs is one way to reduce the amount of fruits and vegetables wasted in schools.

Introducing students to healthy foods early on through farm to school programs is one way to reduce the amount of fruits and vegetables wasted in schools.

October was National Farm to School Month and at FNS we ended on a high note. We released our very first nationwide assessment of farm to school activities and there was a lot of good news to be shared. The Farm to School Census showed that adoption of farm to school activities is trending up; many schools that do not currently have farm to school programs are planning to start them, and millions of children are being exposed to healthy foods and learning about where food comes from. In fact, in school year 2011-2012, schools invested over $350 Million in locally produced, healthy food.  This adds up to major benefits for American nutrition and local economies.

But the benefits don’t stop there.  In addition to creating new market opportunities for farmers and producers across the country, farm to school programs are a way to get students familiar with healthy foods so that they don’t throw those items away when they end up on their cafeteria tray. Read more »