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 »
A young student at Piedmont Year-round Elementary School in Charleston, West Virginia gets ready to enjoy a nutritious breakfast.
Recently, I joined students and staff there for breakfast and was delighted to see the youngsters start their day with a delicious parfait along with cereal, juice, milk, fresh-baked muffins and sliced oranges. While balancing the tall plastic containers of fruit and granola parfait proved just a bit challenging for a few of the younger kids carrying breakfast trays to their tables at Piedmont Year-round Elementary School in Charleston, West Virginia, the meal itself was exactly the type of healthy, well-balanced meal envisioned with the recent improvements to school meal standards issued by USDA. Read more »
US Kevin Concannon and Miami-Dade County School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho talk with students from North Beach Elementary School, Miami, FL, on August 23, 2012, during lunch. (USDA photo by Debbie Smoot).
I recently had the pleasure of visiting North Beach Elementary School in Miami to recognize 177 schools in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools District for their efforts to promote good nutrition and physical activity to their students. All 177 schools achieved Bronze Awards in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC). Miami-Dade now has the honor of having the second largest number of HUSSC awards in any one school district in the entire nation. Read more »
The school day just got healthier! This year, thanks to the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, students can expect to see healthier and more nutritious food on school lunch trays across the country.
To help navigate what these changes mean, you are invited to join National PTA President Betsy Landers, White House Chef Sam Kass, the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, and USDA’s Administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service Audrey Rowe for a live discussion about the exciting new meals coming to school cafeterias. Use the hashtag #schoolfoodsrule to ask questions, give feedback, or just follow along! Read more »