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Posts tagged: First Lady

Michelle Obama Praises Schools in Louisiana for Taking the HealthierUS School Challenge

First Lady Obama praises schools for improving child nutrition.

First Lady Obama praises schools for improving child nutrition.

I just took part in an exciting event at Brock Elementary School in Slidell, Louisiana. The school proudly hosted a visit by First Lady Michelle Obama on September 8, when she spoke about her Let’s Move! initiative and the importance of a healthy lifestyle for kids. As you can imagine, the school administration, food service staff and the students were all thrilled to have the First Lady at their school. This school was chosen because of the exemplary job they have done in providing healthy meals and physical activity for their students. Read more »

North Carolina School Earns Gold for Creating Healthier School Environment for Kids

 Blog by Dr. Lynn Harvey, Ed.D., RD, LDN, FADA
Section Chief, Child Nutrition Services, Division of School Support,
NC Department of Public Instruction 

It was a proud day in North Carolina as Thomasville Primary School earned the HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award.  Officials from the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture were in Thomasville, N.C., to present the award.  Child Nutrition Personnel were joined by the Mayor, members of the City Council, County Commission, and Board of Education, the Superintendent, Principal, Teachers, Parents…and of course, the VIPs of the day…the STUDENTS!  Thomasville Primary School was the “jewel” in the state education crown having earned top recognition for their efforts to educate the “whole child.”

  

As part of the celebration, students demonstrated what they do all year, to not only achieve the Healthier US School Challenge nutrition standards, but also the physical side… they planted seeds in the school garden as they got instruction from a local farmer; they honed their match skills by spending money (school-issued currency) to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at their produce stand; they played Food Pyramid Scramble (yes, running and squatting was involved….just ask USDA Food and Nutrition Branch Chief, Jane Mandel, and Southeast Regional Administrator Donald Arnette who ran the race in business clothes!) 

 

When guests arrived for the awards celebration, they were greeted by the school’s Child Nutrition Personnel wearing bright yellow T-shirts that said ”Let’s Move”.

  

“The reason we picked this slogan,” said Brenda Watford, Thomasville County Schools Nutrition Director, “was to let First Lady Michelle Obama know that we are behind her ‘Let’s Move’ program. We want to help stop the obesity epidemic. We send newsletters home about the nutrition that children need and fact sheets about our fresh fruits and fresh vegetables that we serve as part of our USDA Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program.” 

  

What I observed on this day was nothing short of a complete transformation in the school cafeteria. I saw a generation of “lunch ladies” transform into a new generation of “Let’s Move Ladies.” So at the end of the celebration…we respectfully said “Good Bye Lunch Ladies….Hello “Let’s Move Ladies!” 

Thomasville Primary School’s Let’s Move and Nutrition Staff and other local, state and national VIPs were on hand to celebrate the school receiving a USDA HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award in Thomasville, NC, (USDA Photo by Debbie Haston-Hilger)
Thomasville Primary School’s Let’s Move and Nutrition Staff and other local, state and national VIPs were on hand to celebrate the school receiving a USDA HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award in Thomasville, NC, (USDA Photo by Debbie Haston-Hilger) 

Physical Education Teacher Mandy Davis runs with a Thomasville Primary School student in the “strawberry in a spoon race” as part of their Let’s Move program inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama. The school received a USDA HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award. (USDA photo by Debbie Haston-Hilger)
Physical Education Teacher Mandy Davis runs with a Thomasville Primary School student in the “strawberry in a spoon race” as part of their Let’s Move program inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama. The school received a USDA HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award. (USDA photo by Debbie Haston-Hilger) 

Child Nutrition Assistants Shirley Ryals and Carrie Crump serve nutritious foods to Thomasville Primary School students during the lunch meal showcasing why their school won a USDA HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award (USDA photo by Debbie Haston-Hilger)
Child Nutrition Assistants Shirley Ryals and Carrie Crump serve nutritious foods to Thomasville Primary School students during the lunch meal showcasing why their school won a USDA HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award (USDA photo by Debbie Haston-Hilger) 

Pop Quiz: How Can You Reduce the Fat in School Lunches?

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 the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

When Americans think of the United States Department of Agriculture, they understandably think about the millions of farmers and ranchers who produce our food, feed, fiber, and fuel – the most productive in the world. But there is another group of Americans directly impacted by the work of USDA – the millions of our children who are fed through our child nutrition programs such as the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

A recent study sponsored by the Food and Nutrition Service examined how well schools across the country met USDA nutrition standards for key nutrients like protein, calcium, and vitamin C.  Several of us at the USDA Economic Research Service realized that we could use that same data set to look at the characteristics of schools that met the fat requirements and, more importantly, what successful steps some schools are taking to do just that.

The data set is small, but it is nationally representative.  We found many statistically significant associations between fat content and school policies despite the small nature of the sample.

A number of school policies and practices were associated with lower fat lunches:

* participation in programs that promote fresh fruits and vegetables or locally grown food;
* providing low-fat milk as the only milk choice;
* eliminating French fries or dessert from the menus;
* eliminating vending machines in middle and high schools; and
* excluding a la carte foods from elementary school menus.

The meal planning method also showed a pattern. In the traditional “food-based” method, each meal must consist of certain food item categories (e.g., meat, vegetable, starch). Some schools have moved to a nutrient-based method that plans meals according to nutrient content. And some have opted for an intermediate, “enhanced food-based” plan that combines the food-based method with more fruits, vegetables, and grains. The traditional meal planning method was used more by schools with the highest fat content.

The only school characteristic that was strongly associated with lower fat meals was being in an urban location compared to a suburban or rural one.

The strength of so many associations between school food policies and lunch fat content provide some interesting food for thought in addressing current concerns about nutrition for children.

Dr. Lynn Harvey with NC Department of Public Instruction Child Nutrition Services and Southeast Regional Administrator Donald Arnette with USDA Food and Nutrition Service encourages Thomasville Primary School students in the “strawberry in the spoon” race as part of the school’s Let’s Move program inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama (USDA photo by Debbie Haston-Hilger) Dr. Lynn Harvey with NC Department of Public Instruction Child Nutrition Services and Southeast Regional Administrator Donald Arnette with USDA Food and Nutrition Service encourages Thomasville Primary School students in the “strawberry in the spoon” race as part of the school’s Let’s Move program inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama (USDA photo by Debbie Haston-Hilger)

Local farmer and County Commissioner Billy Joe Kepley volunteers his time to teach Thomasville Primary School students the art of farming in their school’s garden. The school located in Thomasville, NC, is a HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award winner and also has a Let’s Move program inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama (USDA photo by Debbie Haston-Hilger) Local farmer and County Commissioner Billy Joe Kepley volunteers his time to teach Thomasville Primary School students the art of farming in their school’s garden. The school located in Thomasville, NC, is a HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award winner and also has a Let’s Move program inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama (USDA photo by Debbie Haston-Hilger)

 
Constance Newman, Economist, USDA Economic Research Service