Families sample local foods and learn about healthy options at the Minneapolis Public Schools third annual Farm to School Community BBQ.
What a day! The Minneapolis Public Schools’ (MPS) third annual Farm to School Community BBQ took place under bright blue skies on a crisp early autumn day. Over 750 families and community members gathered with over 50 different organizational partners to celebrate MPS’ great work in getting local food into school cafeterias. I had the pleasure of competing against the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture in a corn shucking contest. We were neck and neck – or maybe ear to ear – but I ultimately lost the race. Luckily, children in Minneapolis are winning big!
Minneapolis provides a fantastic example of a school district embracing the changes recently called for in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. School board members routinely eat lunch at the district’s schools, the food service program is making money, and in just two years, Minneapolis school food has become a source of community pride. To enable as much scratch cooking as possible, MPS will invest $40 million in kitchen upgrades to bring the district’s majority “heat-and-serve” sites up to cooking capacity. Read more »
The USDA Farm to School Planning Toolkit provides school districts helpful questions to consider and resources to reference when building their programs.
Healthy habits are taking root in our nation’s schools. Thanks to an important commitment made possible by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, more of our nation’s kids are being exposed to lessons about healthy eating and learning where their food comes from. Established as part of that legislation, USDA’s Farm to School Program plays a vital role in improving health outcomes for our schoolchildren.
This October, during National Farm to School Month, it’s important to acknowledge farm to school programs’ contributions to fostering a healthier next generation. These programs support the work of parents, teachers, school nutrition professionals, and communities to make sure the healthy choice is the easy choice for America’s children. Read more »
Academy for Global Citizenship students enjoy a healthy lunch.
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 Alan Shannon, Public Affairs Director, Midwest Region, USDA Food and Nutrition Service, and Katherine Elmer-Dewitt, Academy for Global Citizenship
As we approach the five-year anniversary of the passage of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, it’s worthwhile to revisit some of the schools that were at the cutting edge of creating healthier school meals. Chicago’s Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) has been a pioneer in serving healthy, delicious school meals that exceed USDA school meals standards. Just as important, students love them! Integral to AGC’s success is a belief in not only serving positive foods but also in creating a culture that supports wellness. The school’s holistic approach relies on parent engagement, physical education, nutrition education, gardening, and more.
The Academy is a recognized national leader in these areas, so much so that Good Morning America visited it in 2011—just after the Act passed—to highlight its work. I was there for the visit and wrote this blog about it. I’ve been fortunate to visit several times since and am honored to share the blog below, written by AGC’s Katherine Elmer-Dewitt. It tells their story and underscores the importance of healthy school food. Read more »
With kids now back in the classroom, USDA wants to help schools continue to build a healthier, more nutritious environment for their students. At the same time, we’re deeply committed to ensuring these same schools maintain financial stability and strong student participation in their meal programs. We’re seeing more and more schools move forward with new and innovative healthy school meals, but we also understand there is a need to share best practices across the country.
Thanks to our partners at the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI), we hope to fill that void. To make this a reality, the group will pilot the Team Up For Success Training Initiative with the assistance of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Southeast Regional Office. Together, they’ll work with school food authorities (SFAs) to identify challenges and provide nuanced resources to promote a healthier school day. Read more »
Waterford students learned how to make “Smart Snacks” (fruit kabobs) and the nutrition benefits of each fruit.
Doreen Simonds is the Nutrition and Purchasing Services Director for the Waterford Public Schools in Waterford, Michigan. Doreen has been a strong voice for healthier school meals and creative nutrition education strategies. Under her leadership, thirteen of Waterford’s twenty schools have won USDA HealthierUS School Challenge awards. I’d like to share Doreen’s blog below on the importance of teamwork in moving forward on children’s health and nutrition.
Oakland County, Michigan has always been in the forefront for promoting progressive moves in child nutrition to support healthy learning for our children. Waterford Schools Food and Nutrition is fortunate to be part of a collaborative community that is always growing for the good of education. With the help of great leadership in our Michigan Department of Education/Team Nutrition and School Nutrition Association of Michigan (SNAM) of Oakland County, we are implementing the new regulations set forth by the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. The teamwork provided our district with great support and direction through comprehensive and thorough statewide and county staff trainings. Read more »
Several recent media reports have misrepresented how the bi-partisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act’s Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards will impact school fundraisers like bake sales.
I’d like to set the record straight: the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not imposing federal restrictions on bake sales or fundraisers.
USDA has given states complete authority to set policies on fundraisers and bake sales that work for them. States are free to allow fundraisers and bake sales featuring foods and beverages that don’t meet the new standards during the school day if they choose. They, not USDA, are responsible for determining the number and the frequency of these events each year. Read more »