Child at a school food pantry. Image provided by Feeding America.
During March, National Nutrition Month®, USDA will highlight various nutrition topics that are near and dear to our hearts. We don’t work on these issues alone however. This guest blog post acknowledges one USDA National Strategic Partner, Feeding America, for the outstanding work they do to address childhood hunger and food insecurity and promote MyPlate. Learn more below:
By Jessica Hager, MA in Social Service Administration, Nutrition Coordinator, Feeding America
Good nutrition, particularly in the first three years of one’s life, is important for establishing a good foundation that has implications for future physical and mental health, academic achievement and economic productivity. Unfortunately, food insecurity is an obstacle that threatens that critical foundation.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 15.9 million children—1 in 5—under the age of 18 in America live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life (Household Food Security in the United States in 2012. Table 1B.USDA ERS.) Additionally, Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2013 research found that 20 percent or more of the child population in each of 37 states and D.C. live in food-insecure households (Map the Meal Gap 2013, Feeding America).
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Administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service Audrey Rowe engages elementary students from Sacramento Unified District on the importance of starting their day with a healthy breakfast.
To kickoff National Nutrition Month, USDA is again celebrating National School Breakfast Week (March 3 – 7) to support the health and well-being of our nation’s children. National Nutrition Month is the perfect time to highlight the essential role nutrition plays in sustaining healthier lives. A well-balanced breakfast serves as an important first step to a healthier life—and a healthier next generation!
The case for breakfast is a strong one. Research reveals that students who consume breakfast make greater strides on standardized tests, pay attention and behave better in class, and are less frequently tardy, absent or visiting the nurse’s office. Eating breakfast is also positively linked with maintaining a healthy weight – and avoiding health problems associated with obesity. Given the current rates of childhood obesity and related health problems, it’s vital for children and families to eat healthier meals and snacks throughout the day.
Studies also show that children who skip breakfast are at an academic disadvantage: They have slower memory recall, make more errors and are more likely to repeat a grade. Read more »
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 »
Food and Nutrition Service employees Jackie Garrett, right, and Angela Mathis, left, inquire about the price of grapes at a produce stand at the Dallas Farmers Market.
Dallas is home to a number of regional offices of federal agencies where we are all busy working to accomplish our various missions. Sometimes we get the opportunity to reach across departmental lines and work with our peers in other agencies. Recently, some of us walked right out of our office buildings and joined forces to promote a healthy lifestyle for federal employees. Read more »
How are you celebrating National Nutrition Month? An easy way to incorporate great nutrition every day is to make MyPlate your plate. You can do that at your own dining table, and you can also help others do so, as well. People across the country have been doing that for a long time by using the plate method to educate kids about building healthy, fun plates that celebrate America’s many cultures and communities.
For example, Salsa, Sabor y Salud has been teaching elementary students about healthy plates since 2002. It is a bilingual nutrition education program created by the non-profit National Latino Children’s Institute (NLCI). Using USDA’s “My Pyramid,” the program created “El Plato Saludable” (“The Healthy Plate”) to teach students each food group. Through this innovative program, more than 35,000 Latinos in 28 states and Puerto Rico participated in nutrition education classes over the past decade. Last year, NLCI partnered with the YMCA in order to expand nutrition education classes to 90 YMCAs across the country. This year, NCLI plans to expand their nutrition education classes into 40 more YMCAs. Read more »