Jackson-Madison County School System School Nutrition Director Susan Johnson and School Nutrition Field Managers Rena Harris, Betty Willingham, and Susie Murchison. Credit: Jackson-Madison County School System
In today’s installment of our Cafeteria Stories series, we highlight the innovative and successful school nutrition strategies that a Tennessee school district is using to positively impact the health of our next generation. I believe very strongly in the power of student engagement, and the Jackson-Madison County School District is expertly tapping into that resource. By empowering students and integrating them into the program structure, they have altered food culture and made the healthy choice the desirable choice within and outside of the school walls. We thank them for sharing their story!
Guest Blog By: Susan Johnson, School Nutrition Director of Jackson-Madison County School System
Sometimes I hear people say that kids don’t like the healthy foods they are served at school, but what I see every day in the 27 schools that make up the Jackson-Madison County School System tells me otherwise. My staff and I see our students choosing to not only eat, but also grow fruits and vegetables, and educate others about the benefits of making healthy choices daily.
At our schools, we are committed to maintaining high standards for the food that we serve to students so that they can flourish in and outside of the classroom. In 2008, our district set minimum nutrition standards for food offered to students in grades PreK-8, which put us on the right track to comply with the USDA’s school meals standards and the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards, which went into effect this summer. Enrolling in the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program provided us with specific tools, such as the Smart Snacks Product Calculator, that enabled us to not only meet, but exceed, federal standards at our schools today. Read more »
Students in Cañon City, Colorado, enjoy fruits and vegetables from their "Harvest Bar".
The following guest blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting the efforts of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country. We thank them for sharing their stories!
by Paula Buser, Director, Nutrition Services & Print Shop, Littleton Public Schools
For me, success in implementing the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, in large part has been about communication and leadership. It’s not just what you present to people, it’s the way you present it and the way you lead them through change.
In the fall of 2012, when the rules were first being implemented, I was the Manager of Nutrition Services for Cañon City Schools in Cañon City, Colorado. Initially, there was a lot of anxiety among the staff about how we were going to be able to meet the new requirements. Read more »
Mobile County’s Super Food Express bus travels from nine to 12 schools to ensure their children are fed healthy meals when school is out of session.
Fried chicken, sausage biscuits and fried okra are a thing of the past in the Mobile County (AL) Public School Service’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), explained Child Nutrition Director of MCPSS, Susanne Yates.
“The program is providing nutritional meals that are still southern in style but meet the new nutritional standards under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. We rely on southern staples such as steamed mixed vegetables, whole grain cereals and baked chicken. Fried foods have been replaced with more nutritious fruits and vegetables and have not been a part of the meal service since 2006.” Read more »
Children in Baltimore enjoy healthy offerings at one of the city’s summer meals sites.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service partners serve a vital role in the success of the federal Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). These important relationships are critical to helping operate and expand summer meals and sites so that no child or teen goes hungry when school is out.
Evaluating their best practices and listening to their anecdotes confirms that kids truly depend on these healthy meals over the course of the summer. During the first day of the summer feeding program, the Hopkins County Family YMCA in Kentucky served over 500 meals. But that’s not the only difference they made that day. The director was at the store picking up supplies, when the cashier asked about her purchase. The director explained the details of the program and the woman’s eyes filled with tears, as she relayed that her husband just lost his job and the family had become desperate. She was put at ease knowing that the Summer Food Service Program will be available to feed her children this summer. 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 on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.
In this week’s guest post, Dr. Stephen Cook describes the childhood overweight and obesity epidemic based on first-hand experience with patients in his clinical practice. He also discusses the important role that school nutrition plays in both short- and long-term health outcomes among our nation’s children.
Dr. Stephen Cook, M.D., Ph.D., American Heart Association Volunteer
It’s a hard truth to swallow, but childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions – and diet has a lot to do with it. In the city of Rochester, where I currently live and work, almost half of all children are overweight or obese. In fact, one of the patients in my practice was already considered obese at the tender age of three. By the time he turned four, his BMI was over the 98th percentile for his age. Read more »
FNS Regional Administrator Pat Dombroski, with youth at a summer meals site run by the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club in Seaford, Del.
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to see the many happy faces of children playing on the recreational fields of the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club in Seaford, Del. They were there as part of a Summer Food Service Program showcasing USDA’s Eat Smart. Play Hard Campaign. It was easy to get caught up in the excitement generated by the Power Panther, the campaign’s mascot, as he danced through the crowd of more than 500 young people. And after enjoying face painting and organized games, the kids were able to relax and enjoy a healthy cook-out style meal.
When school lets out, millions of our nation’s children no longer have access to healthy school breakfast or lunches. Of the 21 million children who receive free and reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program during the regular school year, only 3.5 million participate in summer meal programs. USDA’s summer meals programs aim to fill the hunger gap for our children, and by the looks of the impressive site in southern Delaware, they were meeting that goal. Read more »