As a new school year begins, I’m proud to say that the Obama Administration is taking historic steps to make the school day healthier for kids in schools across the country. I’m excited about the changes showing up in cafeterias this school year – more fruits, vegetables and whole grains; low-fat and fat-free milk choices; and fewer salty and fatty foods.
In addition to those changes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working with parents, teachers and school cafeteria managers to ensure our kids get the right amount of food. Menus are planned for grades K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 and the meals are “right-sized” so that kids get the appropriate amount of calories and the correct portions of different foods. To further improve menu changes, we’re increasing the focus on reducing the amounts of sodium, saturated fat and trans fats available in those meals. Read more »
Fruit and Veggie Ambassadors sampling fresh fruit and vegetables at a Pawtucket Summer Food Service Program.
Do you know what a Malanga is? What about a Chocolate Pepper? The “Fruit and Vegetable Ambassador ” (F&V Ambassador) students of Slater Jr. High School in Pawtucket, Rhode Island learned about these unusual vegetables and more during their Summer Food Service Program fruit and vegetable taste testing. For the less adventurous vegetable eater, a Malanga is a root vegetable that has a nutlike flavor and when cut open looks similar to a sweet potato. A Chocolate Pepper is a purple Bell Pepper.
The students at this summer food program are nicknamed the “F&V Ambassadors” of their school. Along with this prestigious title, students get cool t-shirts and, most importantly, the responsibility of encouraging fellow students throughout the school year to make healthier decisions at lunchtime. Read more »
A Bureau of Printing and Engraving employee examines a run of food stamps for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for errors in May 1974. Photo courtesy National Archives and Records Administration.
Happy Birthday USDA!! We are 150 years strong, serving as federal department bettering the lives of the American people. For over 40 years USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has served as the federal agency in USDA that administers the Nation’s domestic nutrition assistance programs. Our 15 programs comprise the Nation’s food safety net, serving 1 in 4 Americans. They include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly the Food Stamp Program), National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, and The Emergency Food Assistance Program, among others. Read more »
Children listen attentively to the award ceremony.
Did you know that Georgetown is the Red Poppy Capital of Texas? I was surprised to find out that the city is known for the red poppy wildflowers that bloom throughout the city each spring. They hold the Red Poppy Festival each year in April and attract approximately 30,000 visitors. Read more »
West Salem kindergarteners enjoy tacos, refried beans, Garden Bar, and grapes. (Photo courtesy of Sara Jeranek)
When it comes to local foods, it doesn’t get much fresher than vegetables direct from a school garden. In West Salem, Wisconsin, students are not only growing their own vegetables; they’re eating them – with enthusiasm — in their school lunches. Even more, they’re having fun planting, digging, and harvesting, while learning sustainable growing practices. Read more »
From left: Alex Roman, Walsh Elementary School, Chicago, Illinois, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, First Lady Michelle Obama and Becky Bounds, Lamar County Schools, Mississippi. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a reception on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, Monday October 17, 2011 to honor the over 1200 winners in the HealthierUS Schools Challenge that met the First Lady’s goal to double the number of participants in the HealthierUS School Challenge in a year.
Watch a video from the White House event
Given that many children eat as many as two meals a day at school, it’s pretty clear that schools have a vital role to play if we’re going to combat the disturbing rise in childhood obesity we’ve seen in recent years. Just as clear is that schools participating in USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge honored at the White House this week demonstrate the kind of deep commitment needed to create and maintain a healthy school environment. These schools are leaders that set an example for schools across the country. Read more »