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 »
The Breakfast in the Classroom Program provides students a healthy start to their day.
The following guest blog highlights the important work of one of our nation’s many hardworking child nutrition professionals. As a recent participant in USDA’s Team Up for School Nutrition Success Initiative, Thomas J. Smith learned about best practices, strategies and resources to ensure healthy meals are provided to his schools’ most needy students.
By Thomas J. Smith, Director of Child Nutrition, Archdiocese of New York – Department of Education
The primary mission of The Child Nutrition Program, at the Archdiocese of New York-Department of Education, is to ensure that healthy and nutritious meals are provided to our most needy students. Over 20,000 meals are served on a daily basis. Meals are served to our recipient agency schools throughout the Archdiocese of New York. As a result, we serve over 4-million meals between breakfast, lunch, afterschool snack and fresh fruits and vegetables each year. Read more »
The Mushroom Council website has information to help schools incorporate mushrooms in popular meals like beef hamburgers and sloppy joes. Photo courtesy of the Mushroom Council.
Sometimes the right blend can change your perception. One of our industry research and promotion programs is remixing school meal items to help change students’ preconceptions and get them to eat healthy foods.
The Mushroom Council helped out on this front in a number of ways. The Council, which is overseen by our agency – the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – encouraged schools to use recipes that added mushrooms to their beef burgers. By reducing some of the beef and adding the hearty texture of mushrooms, schools were able to increase student consumption of healthy meals without compromising taste. Read more »
Nutritious school meals keep students healthy and ready to learn.
It’s hard to believe the start of the school year is right around the corner. It feels like just yesterday the final bell rang, and students exchanged their pens and pencils for swim trunks and sunglasses. But it’s time for students, teachers and other school staff to get ready for the year ahead, and that includes school nutrition professionals who will soon be tasked with serving healthy school meals to over 30 million students nationwide.
This past year, America’s school nutrition professionals did some phenomenal work, and I look forward to picking up right where we left off. Today, more than 96 percent of schools are successfully meeting the updated meal standards, serving healthy meals approved by nutritionists and students alike. A recent study found that kids are now eating 16 percent more vegetables and 23 percent more fruit at school — not to mention more whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein, than they were before the new meal standards. I’m certain that through continued collaboration with our partners and food professionals, this school year will bring even more progress toward a healthier, hunger-free generation. Read more »
We know that making sure our children have access to a good education and nutritious food helps put them on a path to success. Building a strong foundation for our nation’s youth means ensuring they have all the tools in place to grow up healthy and strong. However, too many American children live in households where healthy food is not always available. In remote areas especially, families still often face barriers to getting the education and healthcare that they need. That’s why USDA invests in initiatives that boost nutrition, invest in important rural infrastructure, like schools, hospitals and farmers markets, and help our nation’s rural families access crucial resources they need to give their kids a strong start to life.
Because the importance of a healthy start cannot be overstated, we begin August by celebrating National Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program Breastfeeding Week in conjunction with Farmers Market Week. Breastfeeding provides health, nutritional, economic and emotional benefits to both mother and baby, which is why WIC provides support for breastfeeding mothers. WIC has a significant, positive impact on the overall health of children and over half of the infants in the United States participate in the program. Read more »
USDA’s new infographic depicts the public health importance of sodium reduction, and provides tips for school nutrition professionals on reducing the sodium content of school meals. (Click to enlarge)
Reducing sodium in school meals is an important part of a broader effort to scale back sodium intake for all Americans. To that end, our nation’s school nutrition professionals are actively working to lower the sodium content in our children’s meals during the school day. Many schools have already achieved USDA’s sodium targets, thanks to student feedback on menu planning, changes in recipes and products, and sharing best practices with their colleagues.
The benefits of reducing sodium are significant and supported by science, which indicates overconsumption can lead to heart disease and other chronic conditions. Through the What’s Shaking? sodium reduction initiative, USDA has teamed with our partners across the country to make a healthful difference for our nation’s children and for their futures. Read more »