In my position as Under Secretary, I occasionally travel the country to meet with, and learn from, some of the many partners who administer and leverage the USDA’s 15 nutrition assistance programs. These programs—from school meals to SNAP (formerly food stamps)—currently touch the lives of one in four Americans.
During a whirlwind visit to Minnesota in March, I had the opportunity to meet with a variety of individuals and organizations directly or indirectly involved with one or more of our nutrition programs. For starters, I participated in a terrific roundtable at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health hosted by national nutrition expert Dr. Mary Story, a strong supporter of healthy school meals. Minnesota Senator Al Franken joined me to hear from local organizations and agencies that administer nutrition assistance programs, promote good nutrition or even work with farmers markets. I was impressed with the accomplishments being realized and the creative approaches employed by local partners to improve nutrition, eliminate hunger, support children and families, and connect farmers to local markets. Read more »
Making sure children have nutritious meals and keep their bodies moving all year long is one of USDA’s most important missions. Our Summer Food Service Program plays an important role in ensuring that all children get healthy meals during the summertime. We’re proud to say that in 2012, our partners helped to serve 144 million summer meals at 38,800 sites across the country. That translates to 2.3 million children served on a typical summer day.
But there is still a lot of work to be done. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of kids who rely on free and reduced price meals during the school year participate in the summer program. So this year we’ve set out to serve 5 million more summer meals. We need your help to meet that goal. Read more »
Join @USDANutrition for a Twitter chat on Summer Meals tomorrow at 3pmET. Use #summermeals to participate.
Want to help feed kids when school gets out? The USDA is hosting a “Help Serve #SummerMeals This Year” Twitter Town Hall this Friday, April 12, 2013 at 3:00 pm EST to inform and inspire organizations across the country to become a summer meal site when school lets out this year. The Twitter Town Hall will feature USDA Undersecretary Kevin Concannon as well as partner organizations including the Food Research and Action Center, D.C. Hunger Solutions, New York City Coalition Against Hunger, and Food Bank of the Rockies. Summer meal sites can be almost anywhere including parks, recreation centers, schools, libraries, places of worship, hospitals, and even mobile food trucks. If you have questions like: Read more »
The Patriot High School cafeteria in Nokesville, Va. Students and parents from the Prince William County School District were invited to the annual food tasting to sample some potential items on the school menu. Photo by Hakim Fobia, AMS
When you walk around many of the nation’s cafeterias, you will notice that plenty of changes have taken place on school lunch menus. Thanks to new standards and other efforts by the USDA, the lunches for our children have become healthier.
The new standards, which were implemented for the 2012-2013 school year, made significant improvements to the National School Lunch Program. Some of the changes include offering only fat-free or low-fat milk options, ensuring that fruits and vegetables are served every day of the week, and increasing the amount of whole grain-rich foods on menus. Read more »
It’s been a little over a year since we first launched SuperTracker, and in that time we’ve loved hearing from our now over 2 million registered users – what they like about the site and ideas to make it better. We’re excited to announce a new SuperTracker feature that is based on user feedback! It’s now possible to create My Foods – customized versions of SuperTracker foods with nutrition information that you enter. When you search for a food in Food Tracker, just click on “customize” in the left hand column and Create My Food pops up. Nestlé Water North America created an educational Daily Buzz TV segment which reached 1.2 million viewers, as well as two Audio News Releases, which aired on nearly 1,900 stations.
Is eating healthy too expensive? It doesn’t have to be if you are willing to follow three simple reminders — Plan, Compare and Prepare. If you follow these, you and your family can save money and eat healthier.
USDA’s ChooseMyPlate.gov includes information to help consumers like you get started toward a healthier lifestyle that can fit just about anyone’s budget. The tips and resources available can make it easier to control what you eat and how much you spend.
Consider these tips to get you started:
Before you go shopping, take 15-20 minutes each week to plan your meals and make a grocery list of what and how much to buy. Consider breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the week. Easy to fix recipes are available online. Include foods and beverages from the five food groups so you can get the nutrients you need. Read the Nutrition Facts label on the packaging, and go easy on foods with added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Consider meals like soups, salads, stews, or even stir-fries to “stretch” expensive items into more portions.
Check the local paper or search online for coupons, sales and specials. Use store loyalty cards and always bring your grocery list. For double savings, use manufacturer coupons during a store sale. Take time to compare unit prices listed on shelves to ensure you are getting the best price. Try to do your grocery shopping when you are not hungry and not too rushed. This will help you avoid impulse buying and convenience foods which will increase your food bill.
Cut up fresh fruits and vegetables for quick snacks. Prepare meals that can be done in advance. Double up your recipes and freeze the leftovers for meals later in the week. For example, last night’s roasted chicken can easily become chicken salad or a chicken quesadilla later in the week.
Eating healthier and spending less is a breeze if you follow these tips to Plan before you shop, Compare options to find the best price, and Prepare meals that stay within your budget. Check out this press release for more information about how the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working to help Americans eat healthier on a budget. For more helpful tips, check out our new 10 tips sheet: Eating better on a budget: 10 tips to help you stretch your food dollars.