Students at Yorkshire Elementary School (Va.) enjoy healthy school meals.
As Deputy Under Secretary, I have the honor and the pleasure of traveling to schools across the country to see our programs in action. Through my visits, I’ve had a chance to meet with hundreds of dedicated school administrators and school nutrition professionals, hearing countless testimonials of how they strive every day to serve students nutritious foods that will help them succeed in the classroom and grow into healthy adults. As a former school nutrition director myself, these visits are one of the most rewarding parts of my job.
Now, as students return to school and we all turn our thoughts to the year ahead, I can’t help but to be inspired by what’s to come. More than 50 million children attend schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. These students are experiencing school environments that are healthier than ever, with balanced meals, healthy snacks, nutrition education and consistent messaging about the importance of healthy eating. Read more »
Promoting Healthy Choices Throughout the School Day
Schools across the country are working hard to ensure students experience a healthy school environment from the moment they walk in the door until the final bell rings. Imagine for a second that you are back in sixth grade. In health class, you’re learning about the food groups and how to eat a balanced diet. During P.E. class, your teacher stresses the importance of exercise and leading a healthy lifestyle. School breakfast and lunch included colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. In between periods you are hungry for an afternoon snack from the school’s vending machine. Your eye catches a glimpse of a flashy picture of a bottle of water with a logo down the side of the vending machine, and you think to yourself that water would be a great thirst quencher. Still, you scan the vending machine and see that your options are bottles of water, 100 percent juices, and unsweetened tea—all healthy options! You are thrilled that the school is supporting your resolve to maintain a healthy lifestyle by making healthy choices so readily available. Feeling good about the choices you’ve made so far that day, you are able to choose a healthy snack to compliment the healthy meals you have eaten throughout the day. 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 »
Community Eligibility is an option that allows school districts in high poverty areas to offer free school meals to all students.
March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.
For more than 250,000 students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), gone are the days of scrounging for lunch money, bumming a snack from a friend, or going into seventh period with a growling stomach. As of March 1,339 sites in the district now offer breakfast and lunch at no cost to students via the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). The second largest school district in the nation, LAUSD serves a high-poverty population: More than one in five residents live below the poverty line, and the area has the largest food insecure population in the country. By expanding CEP in their district, LAUSD is guaranteeing students access to the nutrition they need to thrive in the classroom and beyond.
You may have heard us talk about CEP before. Most recently, we explored how schools around the country are remaining flexible – dealing with any barriers they may face – to implement CEP and benefit from what administrators are calling a “financial win/win.” We’re excited to report that several large districts across the country – and the hundreds of thousands of students enrolled at those schools – are now experiencing those poverty-fighting, nutrition-promoting benefits. LAUSD joins Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Shelby County (Tenn.) and Houston school districts, who have all implemented CEP, offering two nutritious meals a day at no cost to more than 100,000 students each. Read more »
Administrator Audrey Rowe joins Bibb County School District and Alexander II Magnet School faculty and students in their school garden.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 celebrated its fifth anniversary last month, and I can tell you it has made a difference! I think back on the past five years and am proud of the strides we’ve made in giving students access to more local and healthy food in our schools.
Accompanied by FNS Administrator Audrey Rowe, I had a wonderful visit with two Georgia elementary schools this fall. Our trip to Alexander II Magnet School in Bibb County and Westside Elementary School in Houston County highlighted 2015 National School Lunch Week celebrations (October 12-16) and offered a great example of progress on the school meals front. Read more »
Students, school staff, teachers, and the entire community celebrate National School Lunch Week.
The fall season has arrived and with it the National School Lunch Week celebration! During the second week of October, USDA recognizes the important role school meal programs play in providing healthy, appetizing foods to their students. Over the last several weeks, USDA leaders visited schools to experience their meal programs first hand. And they were quite impressed! Now more than ever, today’s schools encourage healthy choices by featuring creative dishes and a variety of fruits and vegetables. USDA also got the chance to tour school gardens that harvest fresh ingredients and allow students to learn where their food comes from. It was exciting to see the many ways schools get students excited about health and nutrition and the important strides made to secure a healthier next generation.
After only three years since the updated nutrition standards were implemented, more than 96 percent of schools nationwide are meeting the standards. The impact is nothing short of inspiring. School lunch revenue has increased by up to $450 million; teachers report that students are more attentive in the classroom; and a Harvard study found students are now eating more fruits and vegetables! Read more »