The following guest blog highlights the important work of our partner the American Public Health Association (APHA). The association is a tireless advocate working to create the healthiest nation. APHA strives to reach that goal through science-based research, and education.
By Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, Executive Director, American Public Health Association
As kids across the country begin a new school year, they’ll be hitting the books to learn important skills to be successful later in life. They’ll also be visiting cafeterias, vending machines and school stores for the foods and beverages they need to fuel their growing bodies and for achieving academic success. With nearly one in three children overweight or obese, it’s critical that healthy meals are available to them throughout the school environment. Read more »
Nutrition Services teams up with high school culinary classes to create recipes and menu concepts.
Locally-sourced fish baked in fresh herbs and oil topped with a fresh cilantro slaw…It sounds like a dish from a five star restaurant, but it’s just one of many recipes registered dietitian and director of nutrition services Jenn Gerard offers students for lunch in her California school district. Learn how Monterey Peninsula Schools embraced the new nutrition standards, using them as a springboard to enhance their impressive school meals programs.
By Jenn Gerard, R.D., Director of Nutrition Services, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District
A students’ favorite: stir-fried ginger chicken with locally grown kale.
The things that make our country so great and special can be found in the diversity of the people, their ideas, and their culture. One of the ways culture is expressed is through the foods we eat. Our nation’s school meals should be no exception. More than 30 million children receive at least one nutritious meal every school day through the USDA’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs.
My commitment is to make sure these children have access to healthy, nutritious meals while they learn. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) has helped raise the nutritional value of the foods our children eat with meal standards that promote health during the years most critical for growing kids. The meal standards have been developed to not only offer healthy meal options, but to allow schools the flexibility to prepare meals that are familiar to kids from culturally diverse backgrounds. Read more »
Direct certification can increase access to free school meals for eligible students.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is committed to helping America’s children get the nutritious food they need to learn and grow. Direct certification for school meals is one important strategy to make that possible for the low-income children. This process links student enrollment records to states’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program data, so children receiving SNAP or TANF can be directly certified for free school meals without having to submit additional paperwork through applications.
By using data already verified through SNAP and TANF, direct certification improves efficiency and accuracy for schools. Just as importantly, families are spared the burden of a separate meals application. Congress made direct certification a requirement for all schools through the 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act. Read more »
At a 2010 press event in support of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, Dr. Hassink was joined by students, ages 6-11, from AHC Inc.'s Berkeley Community Center.
Pediatricians understand all too well the toll that obesity and malnutrition are taking on the health and well-being of our nation’s children. Pediatricians, not politicians, know what’s best for the health of our children, which is why the healthier school meals are based on the advice of pediatricians and nutrition experts. With doctors, parents, teachers and schools all working together, we can make sure our kids get the healthy start in life they deserve. –Secretary Vilsack
By: Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics, @AAPPres
Over the years in my weight management clinic, it became clear to me that addressing each child’s medical needs, such as the need for lifestyle counseling treatment for obesity-related liver disease, type 2 diabetes, or sleep apnea, was a crucial part of my job as a pediatrician. So was caring for the whole child. That meant working to meet three of their most basic needs outside the walls of my pediatric practice: sound nutrition and healthy physical activity; stable, nurturing relationships in families, early child care settings and schools; and safe environments and communities where children live, learn and play. Read more »
Feeding students healthy, tasty and nutritious school meals can be a challenge. Just ask any one of the thousands of school nutrition professionals who carry out the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. They have to balance menu planning following nutrition standards, financial management, and inventory management, all while making meals that will be enjoyed by students – not always an easy audience. It is a testament to their dedication that over 90 percent of America’s schools have now implemented the improved standards found in the Healthy Hungry Free Kids Act of 2010.
USDA is working hard to find ways to continue to support their efforts. One way we are doing that is a new program that we recently piloted in Mississippi that provides free training through a partnership with the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI). The Team Up For School Nutrition Success Training (Team Up) is tailored to schools and covers topics like menu planning, financial management, procurement, meal presentation and appeal, as well as youth engagement tactics, and strategies to reduce plate waste.
Another partner in this initiative is First Lady Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama is grateful for the hard work being done in our country’s school cafeterias, but also recognizes that some may need a little help. When she heard about our initiative, she took the time to make a video to not only thank and encourage the dedicated school food service professional around the country, but to encourage them to take advantage of Team Up. Hear with the First Lady had to say about Team Up: