Today over 97 percent of schools report they are meeting the updated meal standards.
This time of year, it often feels like time is flying by. As we take time to step back and reflect on the past, we often think, “My, my, where did the time go?” or “It feels like just yesterday…” or “How could it be almost 2016 already?” Many of us at USDA are feeling a bit nostalgic too, wondering: “Could it really be half a decade since the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) passed!?”
But as we commemorate the anniversary of the passage of HHFKA, we realize how far our country has come over the last five years toward achieving the goal of ensuring every American child has access to the nutrition they need to grow into healthy adults. HHFKA’s historic investment in the health of our nation’s children has enabled USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to expand and improve a number of our programs and services to better help those in need. Read more »
The Ninos Sanos, Familia Sana program uses NIFA-administered grant funds to teach a new culture of healthy living to residents of Firebaugh, Calif. (Poster courtesy of Elizabeth Bishay)
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
What started as a project to test the effectiveness of childhood obesity prevention methods has turned into a community-wide effort and a new culture of health for families in Firebaugh, California. Read more »
Zucchini Coleslaw is a delicious alternative to sweet coleslaws. Adding salsa instead of sugar to the coleslaw sauce gives each serving more nutrients and more flavor. Photo credit: Jennifer M. Anderson.
This is the fourth installment of the What’s Cooking? Blog Series. In honor of the Let’s Move 5th Anniversary, and the commitment USDA shares with Let’s Move to promote healthy eating and access to healthy foods, this month-long series will highlight the various features of the What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl recipe website.
Attention nutrition educators helping Americans make healthy and budget-friendly choices—this edition of the What’s Cooking? Blog Series is for you! If you haven’t already heard, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipes have a new home on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl web site. This site combines recipes designed for SNAP-Ed, child nutrition programs, the food distribution program, and ChooseMyPlate.gov. Visit What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl, and you will see that there are hundreds of healthy recipes for educators to browse and use in nutrition education programming. For example, how do Zucchini Coleslaw, Mozzarella Chicken with Garlic Spinach, A Simple Mexican Salad, or Ginger Orange Muffins sound?
Many of the recipes found in What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl were created for educating recipients of SNAP benefits. The goal of the education component of SNAP, commonly called SNAP-Ed, is to improve the likelihood that persons eligible for SNAP will make healthy choices, within a limited budget, consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate. The SNAP recipes were developed by SNAP-Ed educators to do just that! Read more »
Everyone wants to save money at the grocery store, especially those on a tight budget. The new Healthy Eating on a Budget section of ChooseMyPlate.gov empowers cost-conscious consumers to make healthy choices with insightful information about meal planning, smart shopping ideas, and creating healthy meals with simple ingredients. Web-based trends indicate that consumers continue to look for information about how to make better eating decisions with limited resources. Healthy Eating on a Budget offers a step-by-step game plan to help families save money and make nutritious meals at home.
Recent scores from the USDA Healthy Eating Index indicate that Americans can struggle to meet recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Most of us need to increase our intake of whole fruit, dark-green and orange vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy. Cost is often considered a barrier to eating healthier and the new resource will help consumers overcome this perception. 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 »
Earlier today, Secretary Vilsack announced the results of the Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP) , a pilot project designed to test the impact of incentivizing fruit and vegetable purchases among SNAP recipients. The pilot showed that an ongoing investment of less than 15 cents per person per day may result in a 25 percent increase in fruit and vegetable consumption among adults. Adults receiving the HIP incentive consumed, on average, an ounce more fruits and vegetables per day than non-participants.
These are promising and exciting results. But we know that there is no silver bullet that can solve the problems of poor diet and obesity among American children and families. Despite increased public awareness of the vital role of nutritious food choices and proper physical activity on our health, the habits of most Americans—SNAP recipients and non-recipients alike—fall short of the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. And although research shows that healthy foods aren’t necessarily more expensive than less healthy options, many low income people face additional time and resource challenges when it comes to putting healthy food on the table that can make less healthy options seem more appealing. Read more »