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Posts tagged: school nutrition

School Nutrition Standards Underpin Healthy Eating Habits

School lunch staff and students enjoy the new school lunch menu created to meet the new standards at the Yorkshire Elementary School in Manassas, VA on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

School lunch staff and students enjoy the new school lunch menu created to meet the new standards at the Yorkshire Elementary School in Manassas, VA on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

In this week’s guest post, Dr. Stephen Cook describes the childhood overweight and obesity epidemic based on first-hand experience with patients in his clinical practice.  He also discusses the important role that school nutrition plays in both short- and long-term health outcomes among our nation’s children.

Dr. Stephen Cook, M.D., Ph.D., American Heart Association Volunteer

It’s a hard truth to swallow, but childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions – and diet has a lot to do with it. In the city of Rochester, where I currently live and work, almost half of all children are overweight or obese. In fact, one of the patients in my practice was already considered obese at the tender age of three. By the time he turned four, his BMI was over the 98th percentile for his age. Read more »

The Heroism of Fostering a Healthier Next Generation

Magaly Valentin (left), and Rosalba Gomez (right) Arlington Food Services prepare fresh salads and vegetable cups for the National School Lunch Program in the kitchen at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia. USDA Photo: Bob Nichols.

Magaly Valentin (left), and Rosalba Gomez (right) Arlington Food Services prepare fresh salads and vegetable cups for the National School Lunch Program in the kitchen at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia. USDA Photo: Bob Nichols.

Cross posted from the Huffington Post:

As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Nowhere is this more evident than in our nation’s schools. Each day, millions of America’s young people are educated, fed and nurtured in these academic “villages.” A crucial aspect of each child’s education is learning how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. School nutrition employees and school nurses play critical roles in this mission, and I am fortunate to witness, first-hand, the dedication of these professionals as I visit USDA school lunch and breakfast programs around the country.

Over the next few days, we have the opportunity to pay tribute to those who work so hard to ensure the health of our children at school. On Friday, we celebrated National School Lunch Hero Day, a time to recognize hardworking school nutrition employees nationwide. This week, we are continuing to honor these professionals during National School Nutrition Employee Week. Both events allow us to demonstrate our gratitude to those who dedicate their careers to preparing and serving healthy meals to our nation’s children. Read more »

How Research Shapes Vital Nutrition Programs

Nutritional research is key to helping millions of Americans achieve healthier lifestyles.

Nutritional research is key to helping millions of Americans achieve healthier lifestyles.

During the month of April we will take a closer look at USDA’s Groundbreaking Research for a Revitalized Rural America, highlighting ways USDA researchers are improving the lives of Americans in ways you might never imagine, such as using research to inform policy decisions about our nutrition assistance programs, which reach 1 in 4 Americans.

America’s nutrition safety net has a broad reach.  SNAP serves millions of hardworking American families, WIC benefits about half of the nation’s infants each year, and the National School Lunch Program touches the lives of about 31 million children every school day, including 21 million low-income children.  Because these and other Federal nutrition assistance programs are a critical resource for families seeking a healthy diet with limited resources, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service knows the importance of shaping them with evidence gathered from rigorous research.

Several flagship studies illustrate how FNS uses research to build the knowledge base about our programs and make continuous improvements to meet the highest nutrition standards: Read more »

Expanding Healthy, American-Produced Food Offerings to Our Schools – USDA’s Pilot Program for Greek-Style Yogurt

Protein products, like Greek-style yogurt, are consistently among the most popular items available to schools through the USDA Foods program.

Protein products, like Greek-style yogurt, are consistently among the most popular items available to schools through the USDA Foods program.

The USDA Foods program offers a wide variety of nutritious, 100 percent domestically produced food to help the nation’s schools feed our children and support U.S. agriculture. Each state participating in the National School Lunch Program annually receives a USDA Foods entitlement, which may be spent on any of the over 180 foods offered on the USDA Foods list.   Last year, the Food and Nutrition Service added an additional product to that list through a pilot program to offer Greek-style (i.e., high-protein yogurt) to schools in Arizona, Idaho, New York and Tennessee.

These states were able to order any quantity of Greek-style yogurt they chose for delivery from September to November 2013 within the balance of their USDA Foods entitlement. Not surprisingly, the overall response to the pilot was very positive. The states’ collective orders totaled 199,800 pounds of yogurt. Read more »

Healthy Kids are Smarter Kids: Culinary Demo Highlights USDA Foods

Things were cookin’ in Nashville last month, and not just the July weather in this vibrant southern city.  At the historic Opryland Hotel, we joined our partners at the School Nutrition Association’s annual convention to show how USDA Foods are increasingly vital to the health of our nation’s schoolchildren.

The culinary demo was led by local chef and Nashville public school dad David Owens, who wowed convention attendees and members of the media with baked chicken in fruit sauce, vegetarian chili, and vegetable rice. But the exhibition was about more than creating great tasting meals. Along with Nashville Education and Training Coordinator Deborah Walker, Chef Owens emphasized practicing safe and healthy preparation, choosing reasonably priced options, and integrating ingredients relevant and appealing to the modern school nutrition program. Read more »

Seeing ARRA’s Investment take Hold

Deputy Under Secretary Janey Thornton is interviewed by Marshall Owler, a journalist from KTCB Fox Channel 7 news in Austin, Texas. Dr. Thornton highlighted the impact of equipment gained through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funding at Decker Elementary.

Deputy Under Secretary Janey Thornton is interviewed by Marshall Owler, a journalist from KTCB Fox Channel 7 news in Austin, Texas. Dr. Thornton highlighted the impact of equipment gained through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funding at Decker Elementary.

I recently traveled to the Texas State capitol of Austin for a speaking engagement in the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) “3E’s of Healthy Living 2010 FND Staff Conference.” Prior to the event I was given the opportunity to tour Decker Elementary, a recipient of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding. I met with with Manor Independent School District (ISD) staff, Principal Leslie Whitworth and TDA Assistant Commissioner Angela Olige, and we toured the school cafeteria to learn how the funding is benefiting students. It was exciting to see their new equipment, as I am quite passionate about school nutrition. Read more »