Today, as we mark the beginning of National Nutrition Month and the start of National School Breakfast Week, and throughout this month, USDA will be highlighting the work of our programs and partner organizations that support a healthier next generation by improving childhood nutrition and reducing obesity, supporting healthy families, enhancing food access, ensuring food security, promoting local markets, and providing science-based nutrition information and guidance for individuals and policy makers.
Through our nutrition assistance programs, support for farmers and ranchers, and our food safety and regulatory programs, USDA is working hard to ensure that all Americans have access to safe, affordable, healthy food. The Agricultural Act of 2014 (a.k.a. “the Farm Bill”) which was passed by Congress a little over a month ago, as well as the Healthy Hunger-free Kid’s Act of 2010 enable us to continue making progress in this area, and support the health of our nation’s families. Read more »
Thanks for tuning in this month to our installments of USDA Then and Now photo series on the amazing innovations that have helped rural America grow and respond to a constantly evolving agricultural landscape. Here you can see Part I, Part II, and Part III.
In our fourth and final Then and Now, we look to some of our long-standing historical programs and missions then, versus how they look today in 2014.
Please keep your stories coming using #AgInnovates! Read more »
This photo shows a first grader at Reavis Elementary School in Chicago eating breakfast in the classroom. With International School Meals Day and National School Breakfast Week coming up it’s a perfect time to talk about how to get more children to eat a nutritious breakfast.
Last year, the first International School Meals Day was held on March 8. It was a great success and brought teachers and students in both the United States and United Kingdom together to connect on one of the most critical issues facing the world today – child nutrition. This year, International School Meals Day will be held on March 6 and we’re looking for even more schools to participate.
The fact is that good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are as important to a child’s overall success as the curriculum that our schools teach every day. Schools are essential to early nutrition education and helping young children build healthy habits that last a lifetime. That’s why I’m so proud that the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act set the wheels in motion for us to raise the standards for school meals in the U.S. This year’s theme for International School Meals Day is “Food Stories” which is a great topic to get kids talking about their favorite nutritious foods they enjoy at school and at home. Read more »
Food service professionals from Arlington Public Schools discuss the day’s lunch service of Baja Fish Taco Wraps, Turkey Hot Dogs, Cherry Tomatoes w/dip, Baked Beans and Fresh Fruit for Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia. The National School Lunch Program operates in public, nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions, providing nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. USDA Photo by Bob Nichols.
As a former school nutrition director, I am amazed when I visit schools around the country and repeatedly witness students clamoring for items like baked kale chips—who would have ever thought that was possible? Truly, schools have done an absolutely tremendous job of implementing the new meal standards resulting from the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. I am so proud of all that our nation’s school nutrition professionals have done to provide healthier, tasty meals to the millions of children who eat breakfast, lunch and snacks at school each day.
While schools have made—and continue to make—great strides across the whole realm of school nutrition, they are still facing challenges in meeting their goals. In particular, many schools across the country do not have appropriate or adequate kitchen equipment. The need for updated equipment is well-documented, most recently by a new Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project report entitled, “Serving Healthy Meals: U.S. Schools Need Updated Kitchen Equipment,” and ranges from cutting boards to refrigerator space. While some schools still need a significant investment in updated and upgraded equipment, many of the needs are simple and could cost as little as $32 to remedy! Read more »
Introducing students to healthy foods early on through farm to school programs is one way to reduce the amount of fruits and vegetables wasted in schools.
October was National Farm to School Month and at FNS we ended on a high note. We released our very first nationwide assessment of farm to school activities and there was a lot of good news to be shared. The Farm to School Census showed that adoption of farm to school activities is trending up; many schools that do not currently have farm to school programs are planning to start them, and millions of children are being exposed to healthy foods and learning about where food comes from. In fact, in school year 2011-2012, schools invested over $350 Million in locally produced, healthy food. This adds up to major benefits for American nutrition and local economies.
But the benefits don’t stop there. In addition to creating new market opportunities for farmers and producers across the country, farm to school programs are a way to get students familiar with healthy foods so that they don’t throw those items away when they end up on their cafeteria tray. Read more »
The last few years have seen significant improvements to the health of the school environment. Schools across the country are increasing their efforts to prevent childhood obesity by serving healthier school meals providing more time for physical activity, and helping kids learn about proper nutrition. It’s clear that the new, healthier school meals implemented last year are working and having a positive impact on the health of our next generation.
We recently surveyed states and schools across the country, and the vast majority of schools—80 percent—have already reported that they are meeting the updated meal standards successfully, with some states reporting 100% of schools completely transitioned to the new standards. We expect the remaining schools to “make it official” soon, too. In fact, a study just released by the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project found that last year 94 percent of U.S. school districts said they were on track to meet the updated nutrition standards for lunches by now. Read more »