Jackson-Madison County School System School Nutrition Director Susan Johnson and School Nutrition Field Managers Rena Harris, Betty Willingham, and Susie Murchison. Credit: Jackson-Madison County School System
In today’s installment of our Cafeteria Stories series, we highlight the innovative and successful school nutrition strategies that a Tennessee school district is using to positively impact the health of our next generation. I believe very strongly in the power of student engagement, and the Jackson-Madison County School District is expertly tapping into that resource. By empowering students and integrating them into the program structure, they have altered food culture and made the healthy choice the desirable choice within and outside of the school walls. We thank them for sharing their story!
Guest Blog By: Susan Johnson, School Nutrition Director of Jackson-Madison County School System
Sometimes I hear people say that kids don’t like the healthy foods they are served at school, but what I see every day in the 27 schools that make up the Jackson-Madison County School System tells me otherwise. My staff and I see our students choosing to not only eat, but also grow fruits and vegetables, and educate others about the benefits of making healthy choices daily.
At our schools, we are committed to maintaining high standards for the food that we serve to students so that they can flourish in and outside of the classroom. In 2008, our district set minimum nutrition standards for food offered to students in grades PreK-8, which put us on the right track to comply with the USDA’s school meals standards and the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards, which went into effect this summer. Enrolling in the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program provided us with specific tools, such as the Smart Snacks Product Calculator, that enabled us to not only meet, but exceed, federal standards at our schools today. Read more »
As a mother and a grandmother, and as a school nutrition professional who has served at the local, state and national levels, I know the unique challenges and rewards that come along with helping to raise children—particularly when it comes to good nutrition.
Feeding kids, and feeding them well, can be tough, but I am proud to say that with the strong support of parents, our schools are making a real difference in the health of our nation’s children.
We at USDA have been working closely with schools during the transition to the updated meals. We have listened to school nutrition professionals, teachers, administrators, parents and students themselves. We have made tweaks and changes to the new meals along the way, based on feedback from their real world experiences. Read more »
Last week, researchers from Michigan State University, Oakland University, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and the Michigan Department of Education came out with a new study showing that when schools offer healthier snacks in vending machines and a la carte lines, students’ overall diets improve. Students in schools that offered healthier snacks consumed more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and not just at school—at home, too.
This is encouraging news for schools and school nutrition professionals as they begin implementing the Smart Snacks in School standards, which will ensure that students are offered healthier food options during the school day. Smart Snacks in School requires more whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and leaner protein, while still leaving plenty of room for tradition, like homemade birthday treats and bake sale fundraisers. 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 »
The ‘Water: You Are What You Drink’ campaign symbol.
Today the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) along with their Honorary Chair, First Lady Michelle Obama, launched a campaign encouraging Americans to drink more water more often. The ‘Water: You Are What You Drink’ campaign is a collaboration between PHA and stakeholders across the public and private sectors. The initiative brings together leaders from industry, government and Hollywood with a shared goal: to excite, inspire and engage people in drinking more water.
This nationwide effort comes during National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, when much attention is already focused on the impact diet plays on the health of our nation. USDA works to educate consumers on the importance of making healthy dietary choices. Choosing healthful beverages is one part of that equation and drinking more water is something that all Americans can benefit from. Increasing water intake, “drinking up”, is an easy change every one of us can make every day. Tap, filtered, bottled, carbonated- it all counts! 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 »