Cross-posted from the Let’s Move blog:
Student culinary competitions are becoming a fun and popular learning tool utilized by many schools throughout the country to engage students in creating healthy, appealing meals. These events encourage students to eat more nutritious foods, as well as give students a voice about foods in schools, showcase school nutrition programs and stimulate interest in local agriculture.
To simplify the planning process and assist schools that may be interested in hosting a student cooking competition, the Institute of Child Nutrition, in conjunction with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, has developed the Chefs Move to Schools: Junior Chef Competition toolkit. Customizable based on the needs of the school, the toolkit includes how-to information as well as sample rules, forms, and guidelines for planning and pulling off a culinary competition at school. Read more »
Students at Yorkshire Elementary School (Va.) enjoy healthy school meals.
As Deputy Under Secretary, I have the honor and the pleasure of traveling to schools across the country to see our programs in action. Through my visits, I’ve had a chance to meet with hundreds of dedicated school administrators and school nutrition professionals, hearing countless testimonials of how they strive every day to serve students nutritious foods that will help them succeed in the classroom and grow into healthy adults. As a former school nutrition director myself, these visits are one of the most rewarding parts of my job.
Now, as students return to school and we all turn our thoughts to the year ahead, I can’t help but to be inspired by what’s to come. More than 50 million children attend schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. These students are experiencing school environments that are healthier than ever, with balanced meals, healthy snacks, nutrition education and consistent messaging about the importance of healthy eating. Read more »
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Audrey Rowe oversees the nation’s federal nutrition assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs.
Audrey Rowe serves as the Administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service. Rowe oversees the nation’s 15 federal nutrition assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs.
“I started my career as an elementary school teacher… and I didn’t last very long because I saw such challenges with learning and health. I saw that school policies treated kids differently based on where their community was located, so I became an advocate for low-income children and families because they often don’t have a strong voice.” – Audrey Rowe Read more »
Map of the dollar value of USDA Foods purchased in FY 2014; icons represent the states that are the largest sources of a particular type of USDA Foods. (Click to view a larger version)
Do you know where your food comes from? If you can pinpoint where your food was grown and produced, you can make more informed decisions to maximize quality, freshness, and nutritional value. You can also help support local economies through your purchases. The USDA Foods program takes this mantra to heart and publishes state of origin reports with procurement information on all USDA Foods every year. As we like to say at FNS, “All USDA Foods are local to someone.”
USDA Foods are 100 percent American grown and produced. Each year, USDA procures more than 200 types of food, including meat, poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables, flour, cereals, and dairy products, totaling approximately $2 billion. Organizations such as food banks, disaster and emergency feeding organizations, Indian Tribal Organizations, schools, and other feeding groups receive these USDA Foods for use in meal service or distribution to households through programs like the National School Lunch Program, The Emergency Food Assistance Program, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. Read more »
FNS’ initial response includes providing USDA Foods to disaster relief organizations. This include a variety of canned, fresh, frozen and dry products including fruits, vegetables, meats, and whole grains.
Twice a year, as part of America’s PrepareAthon!, USDA works closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as well as with other Federal, state and local partners to promote emergency preparedness. When disasters strike, it’s not only important for you and your family to be prepared, it’s also critical that your community be prepared. USDA supports local communities by providing access to healthy meals in emergency situations.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) ensures people have access to nutritious food when they find themselves suddenly in need of assistance following a storm, earthquake, flood or other disaster emergency. Oftentimes after a disaster, retail food stores are closed making it impossible for families to get the food they need. Even after stores reopen, disaster survivors often still are recovering financially which makes buying food difficult. FNS programs are there to help in those circumstances. Read more »
Summer meals help close the nutrition gap children face when schools let out for summer — when children no longer receive school meals they relied on throughout the school year.
The following guest blog discusses the importance of USDA Summer Meals Programs, which provide children with healthy food during the summer, when the school meals they depend on disappear. Childhood memories shared by the writer demonstrate how critical healthy meals are to the growth and development of children. USDA’s approaches to making summer meals accessible are also highlighted.
By Jesus Garcia, Special Assistant, Office of Communications, Administration for Children and Families (HHS)
When I was young, summers seemed to last forever. Days were long and hot in rural South Texas.
One thing I looked forward to after riding my bicycle all over the neighborhood was a nice lunch prepared by my grandmother Angelita. Meals like arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) or carne guisada (stewed meat) with a side of beans provided the energy I needed to keep up with an adventurous summer.
Good food not only helps your body climb hills when you’re a kid, but it helps your brain develop in order to learn new stuff. For some children in our communities, though, not enough healthy food is available for them to enjoy and help them grow. Luckily, a very helpful program exists that communities can use to tackle this problem: USDA’s Summer Meal Programs. Read more »