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 »
Schools across the country are telling us that they are successfully serving healthy, delicious breakfasts and lunches to students. But how do the students and staff feel about the changes? We interviewed students and staff at Bondurant-Farrar School District outside of Des Moines, Iowa to get their take on the new meals.
Lexi Atzen, a senior at Bondurant-Farrar High School says that school meals make her feel better. “When you eat good foods, you feel a lot better about yourself,” says Atzen. “You feel a lot better just in general, you have more energy. And then that leads into the classroom as well.” Read more »
Schools, teachers and school nutrition professionals across the nation are working hard to make the school day healthier. According to a new study by the CDC, schools across the nation are embracing healthier policies, such as increased physical education, reducing kids’ exposure to tobacco, and of course, improving the nutrition environment at schools. Children who participate in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program are now getting more balanced meals – with less fat, sodium and sugar, and more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy – to help them grow healthy and strong. Starting next year, snacks and a la cart options will also offer more of the foods we should encourage, and less of the foods we should avoid. Read more »
This week, we are renewing our efforts at USDA to encourage a generational shift to improve childhood nutrition.
Today, too many of our children aren’t getting the nutrition they need. One-third of today’s children are at risk for preventable health problems because of their weight. Only a quarter of our 17 to 24 year old young people are eligible for military service, in part because many of them are overweight or obese. Read more »
First Lady Michelle Obama joined Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and celebrity cook Rachel Ray at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia, on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 to speak with faculty and parents about the United States Department of Agriculture’s new and improved nutrition standards for school lunches.
It’s always a treat when we get to announce major progress toward making the school day healthier. Today, I am happy to say that over 3717 schools are recognized through the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC). This voluntary initiative acknowledges schools that go the extra mile to increase nutritious food offerings, teach kids about healthy eating, and promote physical activity. Read more »
Today marks the 2nd annual National Summer Food Service Program Kick Off Week (June 11-15). During the school year, more than 21 million children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch through the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs. But when school is out, many low-income kids relying on these school meals, go hungry. To close that gap, USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) helps children get the nutritious meals they need during the summer months so they’re ready to learn when they return to school in the fall.
A teen attending the summer food service site at the Boys and Girls Club of Ada County in Garden City, Idaho enjoys a healthy snack.
This week, we’ll be sharing SFSP information through Twitter, blogs, and a variety of National Summer Food Service Program kick-off events throughout the country. Our children’s continued ability to learn, grow up healthy, and reach their full potential will depend on what we do now to secure their future. Read more »