FNCS Under Secretary Kevin Concannon and FNS SERO Regional Administrator Don Arnette meet the Student Wellness Team from North Beach Elementary School, Miami Beach, Fla., during a recent visit to the school. (USDA photo by Debbie Smoot).
North Beach Elementary School in Miami Beach, Florida was recently recognized by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service as a HealthierUS School Challenge award winner for their outstanding school meal service. While there, we learned about the school’s wellness program which contributes significantly to a healthy learning environment.
“The school wellness activities have helped lead the way in the fight against obesity,” said Michele Rivera, Physical Education/Wellness Coordinator for North Beach Elementary School. “We have countless activities in our school led by students, parents, administrators and community members who share a passion to make our school a healthier place to learn. Students have numerous opportunities, beginning in Pre-K, to learn how to eat healthy and to understand the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.” Read more »
The new nutrition standards established by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act at the US Department of Agriculture represent an important step in America’s fight against childhood obesity and will help promote healthy eating habits for youth in our nation’s schools. These standards promote a balanced diet of additional fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins, and whole grains, while eating less sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.
Allyson Felix, member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and three-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist in track and field, tells us how good nutrition has improved her health and gives her the energy she needs to perform like a champion:
“In the morning before I lace up my running shoes, grab my workout bag and head out the door to the track, I always have my go-to breakfast of oatmeal, fresh fruit and a tall glass of water. It’s an absolute must to fuel my body for the work day I have in front of me. I may have a unique job as a professional track and field athlete; however my day is not unlike most. I’m up early rushing between workouts, meetings, events, and additional training sessions and functions in the afternoon and evening. Trying to keep pace with the days demands can be challenging, but giving my body the proper nutrition it needs allows me to maintain my energy and perform at a high level. Read more »
We’re continuing to answer questions we’ve received from folks about the improvements to school meals that started this school year. One concern we’ve heard is that students who may not be accustomed to eating particular foods may throw them away. We know it is important that students get the calories and nutrition they need to stay alert and energized through the day and schools are doing a number of things to make sure this happens. Read more »
You may have heard this year’s back to school season is a little different than in past years. There is a new, healthier look for the school lunch menu. These updates represent the first major changes to school meals in 15 years, and we know that these changes come with questions. We’ve promised to keep the dialogue open, and we are working to ensure that we answer them all.
The vast majority of students, parents, teachers and school service professionals have had great positive feedback on the new, healthier lunches. However, a few parents have expressed concerns that kids will come home from school hungry or not get enough to eat during the day because their kids have higher caloric needs – in particular, kids who are athletes. Schools and families have – and have always had – multiple options for addressing their needs. Read more »
These cabbages would be the pride of any gardener, but in this case the gardeners are eighty 2nd and 4th grade students from Junction City Elementary in Junction City, Arkansas. They are among the 4,000 students in 54 schools across the country participating in Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth (HGHY) – a project of USDA’s People’s Garden School Pilot Project.
With its southern climate, the schools in Arkansas got a head start on building their gardens and planting crops. On this day, Arkansas HGHY Principal Investigator Laura Connerly and project leads Janet Carson and Julie Treat of the University of Arkansas, along with HGHY Project Director Brad Gaolach and Martha Aitken from Washington State University, watched the students enthusiastically harvest cabbage, beets, basil, and green beans – pounds and pounds of them.
Directing the harvest was University of Arkansas Extension horticulture agent, Robin Bridges, and 4-H Program Assistant, Cynthia Ford, who have taken the Junction City students step by step through building, planning, planting and now, harvesting their garden. HGHY has enjoyed the full participation of the Junction City Elementary staff from Principal Rebekah West, to the four classroom teachers – Jan Wilson, Dee McKinnon, Connie Hammett and Patricia Murray – to the cafeteria and custodial teams, providing a rich environment for the students to learn about healthy eating. Read more »
Addison, a Kindergarten student at Matoaka Elementary School, makes friends with a new vegetable on Asparagus Day.
Matoaka Elementary School isn’t the biggest school, or the oldest. But it does have a Parent Teacher Association that takes student health very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that one committee is completely devoted to helping kids and families develop Healthy Lifestyles!
“There were a few PTA parents who started talking about how our school could be healthier,” said Tryna Fitzpatrick, “and we decided to survey families and find out what other parents were thinking.” Read more »