Students from Harmony Hills Elementary School in Md. bonded – via Skype – with students from Dairy Primary School in Scotland on the first International School Meals Day.
Visiting schools around the country to discuss the importance of health and nutrition with students and educators is one of the favorite parts of my job. Today, I had the opportunity to share these nutrition messages globally! On this day, USDA recognized the second annual International School Meals Day (ISMD), where schools around the world celebrate by promoting healthy eating and learning. This year’s theme was “Food Stories.”
I joined students and staff at Watkins Mill High School, an International Baccalaureate World School in Gaithersburg, Md., to highlight the occasion. There, a select group of students from the International Cultures and Cuisine class shared their school food and nutrition experiences via Skype with other high school students from Acklam Grange School in Middlesbrough, England. Read more »
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 »
Given that many children today eat two meals a day at school, it’s vital that we make every effort to ensure that they have access to the healthy foods they need and the knowledge to make healthy choices. The proposed school wellness policy guidelines and the expansion of community eligibility announced by First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the White House this week mark important steps forward.
We are so excited to see all the great progress that is being made in schools today. Over 90 percent of schools are successfully meeting the new school meal standards, and participation is up in many areas of the country. As more schools, parents, and children continue to embrace healthier school meals, we are seeing great progress in areas such as Dallas, large school districts in Florida, and the city of Los Angeles, where we saw a 14 percent increase under the new standards. Read more »
This photo shows a first grader at Reavis Elementary School in Chicago eating breakfast in the classroom. With International School Meals Day and National School Breakfast Week coming up it’s a perfect time to talk about how to get more children to eat a nutritious breakfast.
Last year, the first International School Meals Day was held on March 8. It was a great success and brought teachers and students in both the United States and United Kingdom together to connect on one of the most critical issues facing the world today – child nutrition. This year, International School Meals Day will be held on March 6 and we’re looking for even more schools to participate.
The fact is that good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are as important to a child’s overall success as the curriculum that our schools teach every day. Schools are essential to early nutrition education and helping young children build healthy habits that last a lifetime. That’s why I’m so proud that the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act set the wheels in motion for us to raise the standards for school meals in the U.S. This year’s theme for International School Meals Day is “Food Stories” which is a great topic to get kids talking about their favorite nutritious foods they enjoy at school and at home. Read more »
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 »
“Cooking Up Change” involved more than one hundred students and over 700 guests.
This November I served as a judge in the 2013-14 kick off Cooking Up Change competition here in Chicago. What is “Cooking Up Change”? It’s a culinary competition sponsored by the Healthy Schools Campaign that challenges Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students and others across the U.S to create and prepare meals that are healthy and tasty and also follow National School Lunch Program requirements. This competition empowers students to have a voice about school meals and nutrition. On top of that, it’s a lot of fun for everyone involved!
The day of the competition I prepared by reviewing the rules, reading meal requirements, and skipping lunch. When I arrived at the event, I was impressed to see how many fellow judges there were and the wide range of food experts sitting around me. The competition got started and teams from fourteen schools started presenting their meals to us. The students brought in three or four cafeteria trays and gave each judge a sample. Judging was based on visual appearance, taste, presentation, and originality. Some students set themselves apart by being very well-polished when explaining the dishes, or by adding some creativity with music and costumes that reflected the meal’s ethic background. The competition was really tough, and ranking thee dishes was no easy task. Every meal had something that stood out, and often I found myself saying “I would order this at a restaurant!” Each dish was so delicious that by the end I could not eat one more bite! Read more »