Students, school staff, teachers, and the entire community celebrate National School Lunch Week.
The fall season has arrived and with it the National School Lunch Week celebration! During the second week of October, USDA recognizes the important role school meal programs play in providing healthy, appetizing foods to their students. Over the last several weeks, USDA leaders visited schools to experience their meal programs first hand. And they were quite impressed! Now more than ever, today’s schools encourage healthy choices by featuring creative dishes and a variety of fruits and vegetables. USDA also got the chance to tour school gardens that harvest fresh ingredients and allow students to learn where their food comes from. It was exciting to see the many ways schools get students excited about health and nutrition and the important strides made to secure a healthier next generation.
After only three years since the updated nutrition standards were implemented, more than 96 percent of schools nationwide are meeting the standards. The impact is nothing short of inspiring. School lunch revenue has increased by up to $450 million; teachers report that students are more attentive in the classroom; and a Harvard study found students are now eating more fruits and vegetables! Read more »
Many schools in high-poverty areas find that participating in CEP is cost-effective.
When the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act authorized the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), schools in high-poverty areas gained another important tool to fight childhood hunger. By the end of school year 2014-15, the first year CEP was available nationwide, more than half of all eligible schools had already jumped on board.
Low-income schools of all kinds – rural, urban, elementary and secondary – recognized the potential impact they could have on their communities by offering meals at no cost to all students. Yet, some schools encountered more bumps on the road to implementation than others. Read more »
Students waiting to enjoy a delicious lunch.
Every day, millions of students across the U.S. walk into school with stomachs growling because they haven’t had enough to eat either that morning or the night before and eagerly anticipate getting a school breakfast. Hours later, when the lunch bell rings, the same students jet to the front of the line to make sure they get enough food to tide them over until their next meal. For many students, school meals are not a luxury or a backup in case they forget to pack a meal; they are a lifeline.
At a time when 8.6 million U.S. children lack consistent access to food at home, the availability of nutritious meals at school is more important than ever. The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) provides an opportunity for schools to not only feed more kids, but can help with the bottom line. Read more »
Chef Brenda works with foodservice staff to assemble her breakfast burrito recipe during the chef designed school taste testing.
The following guest blog highlights the important work of Chef Brenda Thompson, RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist). Thanks to a USDA Team Nutrition grant, she developed recipes for the Chef Designed School Lunch cookbook. Chef Brenda is currently working with the Idaho State Department on the final stages of her second book, Chef Designed School Breakfast, which will be published online at the end of this year.
By Chef Brenda Thompson, RDN
As an advocate for school foodservice staff, I am committed to being a resource—both in getting the word out about the nutrition goals schools are achieving daily and in helping kitchen staff be more efficient and have fun at their jobs.
In conjunction with these goals, I am often presented with opportunities to provide support for schools in meeting the standards set forth in the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. Since I enjoy marketing healthy foods to kids and encouraging them to try new things, these opportunities are a great privilege. Read more »
USDA programs like CACFP help improve access to food and healthful diets for millions of Americans.
During National Nutrition Month, we’re excited to highlight the many ways federal nutrition assistance programs benefit vulnerable Americans.
At USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, we often get the chance to discuss how WIC and our school lunch and breakfast programs boost the nutritional lives of millions. But did you know that each day our Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides over 3.3 million children and 120,000 adults nutritious meals and snacks that contribute to their wellness, healthy growth and development? Read more »
USDA’s new unseasoned chicken strip provides school chefs with versatile and healthy options.
School lunches have evolved since many of our childhood days to keep pace with new dietary guidelines and school meal patterns, but one food has been an enduring component: chicken. The popular protein graces the center of the plate in a variety of forms and flavors, and the new USDA Foods unseasoned chicken strip provides school nutrition professionals with a versatile and healthy option to add to their recipes. USDA develops new products for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) based on feedback from states and school districts. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how chicken flies the coop from farms to a pilot program to cafeterias across the country.
Did you know that on any given day, USDA Foods comprise 15 to 20 percent of the value of food served on the lunch line, or that the School Year 2015 Foods Available List contains more than 200 options? For more than 70 years, USDA has provided states with 100 percent American grown food for school lunches to support the dual mission of strengthening our nutrition safety net and supporting American agriculture. The unseasoned, non-breaded chicken strip is just the latest contribution to a long history of providing nutritious foods for school meals. Read more »