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Team Up Training Fosters Healthier Schools, Empowers School Nutrition Professionals

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 5:00pm
The following guest blog highlights the success story of one of our nation’s school nutrition change agents. As a recent participant and lead mentor in USDA’s Team Up for School Nutrition Success Initiative, Richard Miles provided best practices and strategies to ensure his peers have the tools they need to manage successful school meal programs. [...]

Community Eligibility: Navigating Speed Bumps on the Way to Success

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 5:00pm
When the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act authorized the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), schools in high-poverty areas gained another important tool to fight childhood hunger.  By the end of school year 2014-15, the first year CEP was available nationwide, more than half of all eligible schools had already jumped on board.  Low-income schools of all kinds [...]

Back to School Checklist: Fruits and Veggies

USDA FNS Blog - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 5:00pm
Fruits and vegetables are at the top of USDA’s back to school list, and just in time for the new school year, the Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables is making it easier for schools in eight states to purchase them. The 2014 Farm Bill authorizes the pilot in not more than [...]

School Lunch Equipment Grants Help Provide Healthier Meals to Students Nationwide

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 5:00pm
USDA supports our tireless school nutrition professionals as they work to provide kids the nutrition they need to learn and develop into healthy adults. To further assist schools, USDA announced the availability of $25 million in National School Lunch Program (NSLP) equipment grants for Fiscal Year 2015. These grants help schools obtain much needed infrastructure [...]

School Breakfast Program Provides Increasing Number of Meals

USDA FNS Blog - Wed, 08/26/2015 - 5:00pm
Sometimes called the “most important meal of the day” for school-aged children, breakfast is available at nearly 90,000 schools across the country courtesy of USDA’s School Breakfast Program. On an average school day in fiscal 2014, some 13.5 million students participated. The Economic Research Service (ERS) illustrates the growth of the program in a new [...]

What’s Shaking in School Meals?

USDA FNS Blog - Tue, 08/25/2015 - 5:00pm
What’s shaking in USDA’s school meals programs?  Delicious and nutritious food, that’s what!  Healthy food does not have to be bland or boring.  There’s more to creating a tasty meal than just dousing food in dressing or layering on salty sauces.  It’s easy to make your dish pop without adding excess sodium.  Many schools around [...]

“Fuel Up to Play 60″ Has Game Plan to Supercharge School Fitness and Nutrition

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 5:00pm
Meet Jack, a sixth-grader who is eager to become a school nutrition and fitness game changer. He is one of nearly 20,000 student ambassadors with Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP 60), a program launched by the National Dairy Council (NDC) and National Football League (NFL) in collaboration with USDA. FUTP 60 empowers youth like [...]

USDA’s National Agricultural Library Launches New Historical Dietary Guidance Digital Collection

USDA FNS Blog - Fri, 08/21/2015 - 5:00pm
USDA’s National Agricultural Library (NAL) has launched a fascinating online collection of historical diet and nutrition publications issued by the U.S. Government. The Historical Dietary Guidance Digital Collection (HDGDC) combines more than 900 documents representing over 100 years of history. Through this digital collection, users can explore the evolution of American food, diet and nutrition, [...]

Seminole Sprint Puts the FUN back in Fundraising

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 08/20/2015 - 5:00pm
The following guest blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting the efforts of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country.  We thank them for sharing their stories! By Tom Adam, Physical Education Teacher and Wellness Champion at Spout Springs School of [...]

USDA Wants YOU to Serve on a Board, Committee or Council

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 08/20/2015 - 5:00pm
Why does someone choose to serve on a USDA board?  To find out, we asked several members of one important board that very question. The Peanut Standards Board, which is overseen by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), was created by Congress to establish quality and handling standards for peanuts sold in the marketplace. Peanuts are [...]

School Meals Seasoned with Cultural Flavors

USDA FNS Blog - Wed, 08/19/2015 - 5:00pm
The things that make our country so great and special can be found in the diversity of the people, their ideas, and their culture. One of the ways culture is expressed is through the foods we eat. Our nation’s school meals should be no exception. More than 30 million children receive at least one nutritious [...]

USDA Agencies Lead Local Food Discussion in Omaha

USDA FNS Blog - Wed, 08/19/2015 - 5:00pm
I was thrilled to join USDA colleagues at the first-of-its-kind “Local Foods for Local Tables” conference in Omaha, Neb., on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015.  USDA Rural Development (RD) State Director Maxine Moul and the office of Congressman Brad Ashford led the effort to bring together groups and community members with the common goal of promoting [...]

Community Eligibility: A Win-Win for Schools and Families in the Fight against Childhood Hunger

USDA FNS Blog - Wed, 08/19/2015 - 5:00pm
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 [...]

USDA Training Benefits Child Nutrition Program, Increases Access to Healthy Meals

USDA FNS Blog - Tue, 08/18/2015 - 5:00pm
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 [...]

Blending Up New Ways for Kids to Enjoy School Meals

USDA FNS Blog - Tue, 08/18/2015 - 5:00pm
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 – [...]

Back to School, Back to Healthier School Meals

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 08/17/2015 - 5:00pm
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 [...]

Partners Make Access to Meals for Children Possible Year Round in Kentucky

USDA FNS Blog - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 5:00pm
Kids in bright summer play clothes come running with smiles and laughter as the white cargo van rolls to a stop near a playground and the rear doors swing open. No, it’s not the ice cream truck. It is something better – the lunch ladies from Kentucky Communities Economic Opportunity Council (KCEOC) Community Action Center [...]

Farm to Preschool Helps Healthy Habits Take Root Early

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 08/13/2015 - 5:00pm
“May I have more kale chips, please?” asked a four-year old preschooler during one of my first site visits as farm to school lead for the Food and Nutrition Service’s Western Region. The preschoolers I was visiting grew and harvested the kale themselves a few feet beyond their classroom door and were enjoying the crisp [...]

Tackling Rural Child Poverty In Southwest Georgia

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 08/13/2015 - 9:00am
In late July, I was thrilled to visit with leaders from across southwest Georgia, including my hometown of Camilla, to discuss how USDA can support their work on the ground tackling issues relating to rural child poverty. In Georgia, the poverty rate is 19 percent, and for children, it’s a staggering 27 percent. In Dougherty [...]

Listening and Learning From Local Food Stakeholders in New Mexico

USDA FNS Blog - Fri, 08/07/2015 - 5:00pm
As part of National Farmers Market Week, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Anne L. Alonzo and I traveled to New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. The bustling Santa Fe Farmers Market was the perfect place to kick off the week! While there, we also traveled to the beautiful countryside and met with key local [...]