Today, USDA proposed the establishment of minimum national professional standards and training requirements for school nutrition professionals who manage and operate the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.
The standards, another key provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA), aim to institute education and certification standards for school nutrition professionals. These new standards will ensure that school nutrition personnel have the training and tools they need to plan, prepare and purchase healthy products to create nutritious, safe and enjoyable school meals.
As a former school nutrition director I can tell you that school nutrition professionals across the country are pleased with the new meal patterns established by the HHFKA, which requires schools to prepare healthier meals for 32 million children each day. Schools are at the forefront of national efforts to improve nutrition and reduce obesity in our Nation’s children. Read more »
U.S. Forest Service crewmember Bill Scripp finishes the job of sawing downed trees at Forest Park in Queens, NY on Nov. 4, 2012 to make passage safe for residents. The park is a major walking thoroughfare, including popular recreational trails. Bill Scripp belongs to the Wayne National Forest, in Ohio Valley, OH. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.
All this week, Americans are pausing to reflect on the devastation caused when Hurricane Sandy slammed ashore on the eastern seaboard. Over 160 people died, property was damaged, lives were disrupted, families were torn apart and jobs were affected.
USDA helped the recovery effort in a number of ways, and while we are proud of our work, we also learned from the experience in order to assist those affected by future catastrophes.
Our first task was helping those who were facing hunger. Following a disaster, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) provides nutrition assistance to disaster survivors through disaster USDA Foods Distribution Programs and by authorizing the implementation of the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D SNAP). In addition, FNS approves waivers that simplify the SNAP benefit replacement process to aid ongoing SNAP households affected by a disaster. Read more »
You may have heard this year’s back to school season is a little different than in past years. There is a new, healthier look for the school lunch menu. These updates represent the first major changes to school meals in 15 years, and we know that these changes come with questions. We’ve promised to keep the dialogue open, and we are working to ensure that we answer them all.
The vast majority of students, parents, teachers and school service professionals have had great positive feedback on the new, healthier lunches. However, a few parents have expressed concerns that kids will come home from school hungry or not get enough to eat during the day because their kids have higher caloric needs – in particular, kids who are athletes. Schools and families have – and have always had – multiple options for addressing their needs. Read more »
A student works hard on her assignment while eating a grab ‘n’ go breakfast in Mikelle Caine’s second grade advance class at Lake Forest Elementary School, Sandy Springs, Ga., (USDA photo by Debbie Smoot).
Some say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I have to agree especially when it comes to children. Starting the day with a healthy breakfast helps keep kids alert and focused on learning rather than lunch. But not every child eats a nutritious breakfast at home. In fact, even though 32 million students participate in the National School Lunch Program each day, only 12 million students eat a school breakfast daily. That means we have to continue to work to get those school breakfast numbers up! Read more »
In August I went back to school with students in Albany and Newton, Ga., to see how healthy school meals help students get their “S.W.A.G. on” and prepare for success.
In Albany, 400 Sherwood Acres Elementary Magnet School students celebrated school breakfast, many wearing S.W.A.G. t-shirts, which stands for “Students with Academic Greatness!”
Vanessa Hayes, Dougherty County Schools Director of Child Nutrition Services, explained, “We understand that good nutrition is the fuel for the educational vehicle.” Read more »
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack helps students with their lunch at the Edward C. Mazique Parent Child Care Center in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2010. Secretary Vilsack is assisted by (L to R) Melkam Mekuria, Center Director and Freida Phiffer, Teacher Assistant. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius were at the facility to celebrate the one year anniversary of the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA). Photo by Chris Smith
When I first stepped into my role as Secretary of Agriculture, President Obama and I highlighted healthier school meals as a top priority; and today, we made great strides toward that goal with the passage of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. Read more »