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Let's Move

Release No.
0218.11

Contact:
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

DALLAS, May 25, 2011 -- USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, Janey Thornton today recognized 154 Dallas schools for their efforts to expand nutrition and physical activity opportunities, the largest group of honorees from one district to date. USDA and its partners, the National Football League and the National Dairy Council, joined students, teachers, foodservice professionals, and community leaders for the HealthierUS School Challenge celebration. This is the largest number of awards ever presented to a single school district and the state of Texas leads the nation in the highest number of awards.

"HealthierUS Schools have taken an active role in combating childhood obesity by incorporating healthier menus and introducing more physical activities during the school day," said Thornton. "The strong foundation these schools have built supports a clear path for our nation's young people to win the future."

The Challenge and Fuel Up to Play 60 are key components of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation. Last year, the First Lady and USDA called on stakeholders to double the number of HUSSC schools within in a year and add 1,000 schools per year for two years after that. As of May 9, 1,001 schools are certified, well on the way toward the goal of 1,250 schools in this school year. Schools participating in the HUSSC voluntarily adopt USDA standards for food they serve at their schools, agree to offer nutrition education and to provide opportunities for physical activity. Other Let's Move! child nutrition initiatives include Fuel Up to Play 60, a customizable in-school program that empowers youth in more than 70,000 schools to improve nutrition and physical activity at their school and for their own health. It encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods (including low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

USDA recently announced that it will be investing $5.5 million in grants with approximately $2.5 million set aside to provide non-competitive grants (up to $50,000) to each State Agency that commits to specific strategies to increase the number of HealthierUS School Challenge applications submitted for approval. Up to $350,000 may be requested to include both competitive and non-competitive grants.

"First Lady Michelle Obama and USDA believe that schools can take a leadership role in helping students learn to make healthier eating and active lifestyle choices for better health," said Janey Thornton, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. "Today, we honor their commitment and encourage other schools to emulate their efforts in fostering these environments."

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service oversees 15 nutrition assistance programs that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. The programs work together to form a national safety net against hunger. The National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs provide nutritionally balanced, free and low-cost meals to nearly 32 million school children each school day. SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, puts healthy food in reach for more than 44 million Americans each month, half of whom are children.

Release No.
0253.11

Contact:
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

<p align="center" class="BodyTextBlack"><i>Student Chefs Compete for Grand Prize in National Cook-Off </i></p>

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2011 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the finalists in First Lady Michelle Obama's Recipes for Healthy Kids competition, a national contest to promote healthy eating among children. The first place recipes from categories of Whole Grains, Dark Green and Orange Vegetables, and Dry Beans and Peas will compete for the Grand Prize at a national cook-off event during the American Culinary Federation National Convention in Dallas, Texas, on July 25.

"Creating and consuming nutritious meals provides a foundation for healthy lives among America's children," said Vilsack. "The Obama administration supports the many innovative strategies in place that enable our schoolchildren to learn, thrive, grow – and ultimately win the future. We congratulate these teams on their hard work, creativity, and dedication to improving the health and nutrition of kids across the country."

USDA and the First Lady launched the Recipes for Healthy Kids competition last September, challenging teams of school nutrition professionals, chefs, students, and community members to develop creative, nutritious, and kid-approved recipes that schools can easily incorporate into National School Lunch Program menus. The contest is a component of the First Lady's broader Let's Move! initiative that also includes Chefs Move to Schools, which encourages chefs to work with schools in their communities.

The public also had the opportunity to vote on their favorite selection in the Popular Choice Award. The honoree for the Popular Choice Award, Tasty Tots from Bellingham Memorial Middle School Bellingham, Mass., will receive $1,500.

The first, second, and runner-up winning recipes and schools for each category are:

Dark Green and Orange Vegetables

  • First Place: Central Valley Harvest Bake, Joshua Cowell School, Manteca, Calif.
  • Second Place: Stir-Fry Fajita Chicken, Squash, and Corn, Monument Valley High School, Kayenta Unified School District, Kayenta, Ariz.
  • Runner-up: Crunchy Hawaiian Chicken Wrap, Mount Lebanon Elementary School, Pendleton, S.C.

Whole Grains

  • First Place: Porcupine Sliders, Intermediate District 287, South Education Center Alternative, Richfield, Minn.
  • Second Place: Chic' Penne, Harold S. Winograd K-8 School Mission, Greeley, Colo.
  • Runner-up: Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, Bellingham Memorial Middle School, Bellingham, Mass.

Dry Beans and Peas

  • First Place: Tuscan Smoked Turkey & Bean Soup, Ira B. Jones Elementary School, Asheville, N.C.
  • Second Place: Lentils of the Southwest, Sweeney Elementary School, Santa Fe Public Schools, Santa Fe, N.M.
  • Runner-up: Confetti Soup, Burke Middle and High School, Charleston County School District, Charleston, S.C.

To recognize and share the culinary creativity nationwide, the top ten recipes in each category will be published in a Recipes for Healthy Kids Cookbook to share with students and families.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the child nutrition programs. Improving child nutrition is also a focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that was signed in to law by President Obama in December 2010. This legislation authorizes USDA's child nutrition programs, including the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program, which serves nearly 32 million children each day. It will allow USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative. To learn more, visit www.LetsMove.gov.

 

Release No.
0255.11

Contact:
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

<p align="center" class="BodyTextBlack"><i>Participation in the Universal Meal Service Option Targets Nutrition in High-Poverty Areas</i></p>

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2011 – USDA announced today that Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee were selected to participate in the initial year of an innovative universal free meal service option that makes it easier for low-income children to receive meals in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The "Community Eligibility Option" will allow schools in high-poverty areas to eliminate the use of applications and provide free breakfast and lunch to all students.

"Community eligibility is a great way for schools to cut through burdensome red tape for themselves and low-income families so that children in high-poverty areas have access to the nutrition they need to learn and thrive," said Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon. "Schools will benefit from reduced paperwork, parents will not have to fill out duplicative forms, and children in need will get better access to healthy school meals."

Under this option, schools utilize preexisting data to determine the amount of reimbursement they can claim from USDA. The determination is primarily based on the percentage of households in that community who are already participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. Schools that utilize this option agree to provide meals to all children free of charge, and USDA reimburses them for the appropriate amount based on this preexisting data. Under this option, schools will still be responsible for paying the remaining difference between the Federal reimbursement amount and the total cost to operate the program.

The Community Eligibility Option is among the early reforms enacted as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, signed by President Obama on December 13, 2010. The Act requires the Community Eligibility Option to be phased-in over three years and authorizes USDA to select up to three states to participate in the option in School Year 2011-12. The Option will be offered to additional states in successive years, and will be available to all states beginning School Year 2014-15.

For the phase-in period, the law requires USDA to select states "with an adequate number and variety of schools and local educational agencies that could benefit from" the Community Eligibility option. USDA identified ten states as eligible to apply for consideration for participation in the initial school year and, based on a review of information submitted by these states, USDA selected Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee for School Year 2011-2012.

Improving child nutrition is the focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The legislation authorizes USDA's child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Summer Food Service Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. The Act allows USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children, and help a new generation win the future by having healthier lives. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Initiative's goal to end childhood obesity in a generation.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Visit www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.

 

Release No.
0266.11

Contact:
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

CASPER, WY, June 21, 2011 -Today, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Janey Thornton addressed the need for more Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sites across the country to feed low-income children when school is out. During the 2011 Wyoming School Nutrition Association Conference in Casper, Thornton was joined by Wyoming dignitaries and officials including Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Congressman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Wyoming's Superintendent of Public Instruction, Cindy Hill. The three day event includes more than 150 participants and 200 children.

"Each year, millions of Americans struggle to provide healthy meals to their children during the summer," said Thornton. "Thanks to our valued partners, more stakeholders in Wyoming and around the nation are aware of the nutrition gap low-income children face when school is out of session."

During the regular school year, more than 21 million children nationwide receive free and reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program, yet little more than 3 million kids are fed in summer meals programs. Thornton emphasized the Administration's commitment to feed more hungry children this summer. She also touted renewed efforts by USDA and partners to highlight the important nutrition benefits provided by the SFSP and other healthy meal options available for low-income children across the country. This summer:

  • Let's Move! Faith and Communities (part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative) will work with partners to host new feeding sites at congregations and neighborhood organizations;
  • the Corporation for National and Community Service's 515 AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates will work at anti-hunger organizations across the country to feed more children in programs, including the SFSP;
  • sponsors will benefit from new waivers to simplify existing regulations in the SFSP to streamline ways to feed low-income children when school is out;
  • several states will test innovative enhancements to the SFSP, including the provision of food backpacks to provide assistance over weekends, and meal delivery to reach children in rural areas;
  • and last week Secretary Vilsack kicked-off the first National Summer Food Service Program Week, a week-long awareness campaign promoting initiatives across the nation aimed at nourishing low-income children during summer months.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the Summer Food Service Program and other child nutrition programs, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Visit www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs and go to http://www.fns.usda.gov/ech/ to see how you can help end childhood hunger.

Release No.
0272.11

Contact:
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

<p align="center" class="BodyTextBlack"><i>USDA Official Highlights Role of Summer Meals Program in Preventing Child Hunger</i></p>

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2011 – USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Administrator Audrey Rowe joined D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) representatives at the 8th Annual "Free Summer Meals Kick off", a celebration of USDA's Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in the District of Columbia. This summer, OSSE will offer more than 300 feeding sites throughout the city, providing free, nutritious meals to children up to age 18.

"Each summer, millions of families struggle to provide their children with nutritious meals when schools close, said Rowe. "The Summer Food Service Program fills this gap by marshalling resources to curb food insecurity and end hunger for our nation's children. We are proud of the District of Columbia and all the partnerships that make summer meals available to D.C. children. The commitment is not only admirable, but serves to encourage other states striving to provide nourishment to children in need."

During the regular school year, more than 21 million children nationwide receive free and reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program, yet just more than 3 million kids are fed in summer meals programs. In July 2010, approximately 80 percent of eligible children (more than 28,000) were served by the D.C. Free Summer Meals Program, according to Hunger Doesn't Take a Vacation, the Food Research and Action Center's (FRAC) analysis of national participation in Summer Nutrition Programs. Nationwide, only 15 percent of children participate in the SFSP program.

Rowe also focused on the administration's commitment to feed more hungry children this summer. She touted renewed efforts by USDA and its partners to highlight the important nutrition benefits provided by the SFSP, as well as other healthy meal options for low-income children. This summer:

  • Let's Move! Faith and Communities (part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative) will work with partners to host new feeding sites at congregations and neighborhood organizations;
  • the Corporation for National and Community Service's 515 AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates will work at anti-hunger organizations across the country to feed more children in programs, including the SFSP;
  • sponsors will benefit from new waivers to simplify existing regulations in the SFSP to streamline ways to feed low-income children when school is out;
  • and several states will test innovative enhancements to the SFSP, including the provision of food backpacks to provide assistance over weekends, and meal delivery to reach children in rural areas.

Improving child nutrition is the focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed into law by President Obama in December 2010. The legislation reauthorized the SFSP and USDA's other child nutrition programs. The Act allows USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to school meals and increase access to these critical programs. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is also the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the child nutrition programs, which touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Visit www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.

In Washington, D.C., families can find summer meal sites by calling toll free 311, texting 202.6565.EAT (328) or visiting dcfreesummermeals.org. Families can also call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-Hungry or 1-877-8-Hambre for information on all FNS nutrition assistance programs. Anyone interested in volunteer opportunities can visit www.serve.gov/endhunger.

 

Release No.
0300.11

Contact:
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 11, 2011 — USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Janey Thornton today highlighted the importance of USDA Foods and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act during the 2011 School Nutrition Association national convention. Thornton joined thousands of school nutrition professionals at the three-day event which offers an opportunity for a dialogue on the administration's efforts to ensure healthier meals in the National School Breakfast and Lunch programs.

"The School Nutrition Association is a strong partner in the Obama Administration's effort to ensure that our nation's school children are provided the most nutritious food possible," said USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Janey Thornton. "For many children, the food they receive in school is their primary source of nutrition. By working closely with our school nutrition professionals, we are creating the healthy school environment needed to ensure our children are engaged and productive learners."

With one in every three children in America at risk for preventable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease due to overweight and obesity, school nutrition improvements are an investment in improving our children's future and are critical to helping them maintain optimal health. School meals currently reach nearly 32 million children each school day nationwide, and many children consume as many as half their daily calories at school.

USDA purchases between 15-20 percent of the foods served in school meals. USDA offers more than 180 nutritious foods, including more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and foods that are lower in fat, salt, and added sugars than ever before. Schools are choosing to use USDA Foods in more healthful ways. Many schools have eliminated fried foods and have opted to showcase USDA Foods as part of lower sodium menu items that appeal to children. USDA Foods are 100 percent American-grown, support American agriculture, and help schools stretch their food budgets. The 101,000 schools and institutions that participate in the National School Lunch Program are thinking more and more creatively about how to serve healthful options that kids will enjoy.

Improving child nutrition is the focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed by President Obama in December 2010. The legislation, which reauthorized the Child Nutrition and WIC programs, will allow USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school meals programs improve the nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children, and help a new generation win the future by having healthier lives. The Act is the legislative centerpiece of the Let's Move! initiative.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service oversees 15 nutrition assistance programs that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. The programs work together to form a national safety net against hunger. The National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs provide nutritionally balanced, free and low-cost meals to nearly 32 million school children each school day. SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, puts healthy food in reach for more than 44 million Americans each month, half of whom are children.

Release No.
0304.11

Contact:
Jimmie Turner (202) 720-8998

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2011 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will conduct a pilot for acquiring fresh fruits and vegetables to build on farm-to-school programs in Florida and Michigan. The pilot will use commercial distribution models already in place and allow schools to obtain locally grown produce.

"This is a win-win for everyone as this pilot program will allow us to get fresh fruits and vegetables to schools," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. "We are constantly searching for new opportunities to expand markets for producers while providing fresh, healthy food to schools."

AMS will review growers' eligibility to participate in the program to ensure they meet Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices. A Request for Proposal for various domestic fresh fruits and vegetables delivered in quantities that are usable by recipients will be put forth by AMS.

Florida and Michigan will use their entitlement funds to purchase the commodities from a list of various foods purchased by USDA and offered through the school lunch program. Entitlements are grants-in-aid to schools that help defray the cost of school lunch; local schools earn a fixed federal reimbursement for each school lunch served consistent with USDA nutritional guidelines.

USDA typically purchases 15 to 20 percent of the foods that are used in the National School Lunch Program. Purchases include poultry, meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and oils. USDA food purchases serve the dual purpose of supporting agricultural markets and providing nutritious foods to school children and needy Americans.

FNS provides children and low-income people access to food, a healthful diet, and nutrition education. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 authorizes USDA's child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Summer Food Service Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. The Act allows USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children, and help a new generation win the future by having healthier lives. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation.

Release No.
0319.11

Contact:
Bruce Alexander FNS Office of Communications (703) 305-2281

DALLAS, July 26, 2011 – USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Administrator Audrey Rowe yesterday announced the winner of First Lady Michelle Obama's Recipes for Healthy Kids competition. The contest launched last year to challenge students, parents and other interested community members to create tasty and healthy new recipes for America's school cafeteria menus.

Intermediate District 287, South Education Center Alternative in Richfield, Minn. captured the Grand Prize with its Porcupine Sliders, in a national cook-off held during the American Culinary Federation National Convention, from among 340 recipes originally submitted by schools across the country. White House chef Sam Kass acted as master of ceremonies for the cook-off.

"Intermediate District 287, South Education Center Alternative and all of the schools that participated in the competition have demonstrated once again that school meals can be healthy – and taste great too," said Rowe. "This is an outstanding achievement for our kids and for our efforts to bring healthier meals and healthier lifestyles to schools across the nation."

Finalists in today's recipe cook-off also included Central Valley Harvest Bake, submitted by Joshua Cowell School in Manteca, Calif.; and Tuscan Smoked Turkey & Bean Soup submitted by Ira B. Jones Elementary School in Asheville, N.C. Competing teams submitted recipes in three categories: Dry Beans, Dark Green-Orange Vegetables, and Whole Grains. The top 10 recipes in each category will be published in a Recipes for Healthy Kids cookbook to share with schools, students and families.

USDA and the First Lady launched the Recipes for Healthy Kids competition last September, challenging teams of school nutrition professionals, chefs, students, and community members to develop creative, nutritious, and kid-approved recipes that schools can easily incorporate into National School Lunch Program menus. The contest is a component of the First Lady's broader Let's Move! initiative that also includes Chefs Move to Schools, which encourages chefs to work with schools in their communities.

The National School Lunch Program is one of 15 nutrition assistance programs administered by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service. Together these programs, which also include the Summer Food Service Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, comprise a national safety net against hunger.

Additional information about USDA's nutrition assistance programs can be found at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/fns/.

 

Release No.
0359.11

Contact:
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

<p align="center"><em>Schools Meet First Lady&#39;s HealthierUS School Challenge Goal with 1250 Receiving Honors for Expanding Nutrition and Physical Activity Opportunities</em></p>

WASHINGTON, August 15, 2011 — Today, USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon hosted a conference call to highlight the historic school nutrition reforms and improvements that students and families will see in the new school year. The reforms, delivered through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA), are improving the nutritional quality of school meals and bolstering the entire school environment. Concannon also announced that schools nationwide reached First Lady Michelle Obama's goal of 1,250 schools receiving HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) honors for expanding nutrition and physical activity opportunities.

"The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is a great win for our kids and the health of our nation," said Concannon. "I want to recognize the hundreds of schools that have already made great progress toward achieving school meals reforms – and can serve as models for others seeking to make improvements. By fueling our nation's children with the healthiest foods possible while at school, we can reinforce the healthy lifestyles that many parents are already teaching their children at home, which will put them in a position to thrive, grow and ultimately reach their full potential."

Under Secretary Concannon announced that schools had reached the goal of 1,250 schools receiving HealthierUS School Challenge honors for expanding nutrition and physical activity opportunities. HUSSC is a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation. Last year, the First Lady and USDA challenged the nation's communities to double the number of HUSSC schools within in a year –reaching 1,250 schools by the end of June 2011. Schools participating in the Challenge are recognized with Gold Award of Distinction, Gold, Silver, or Bronze-level certification. Schools participating in the HUSSC voluntarily adopt USDA standards for food they serve at their schools, agree to provide nutrition education and to provide opportunities for physical activity.

USDA also took the opportunity to launch the Healthy Access Locator, a web-based resource that geographically pinpoints HUSSC award-winning schools and features built-in data on diet-related diseases. The web-based map allows users to search HealthierUS School Challenge awards by geography (national, regional, local), school type (elementary, middle, high), award type (bronze, silver, gold, gold award of distinction) and date of award.

Since President Obama signed the HHFKA into law on December 13, USDA has worked aggressively to implement the Act's historic reforms including provisions to simplify program administration and expand children's access to school meals. Key accomplishments include:

  • Nationwide Expansion of At-Risk Afterschool Meals: USDA worked closely with states to expand the availability of afterschool meals across the nation to through the Child and Adult Care Food Program. USDA estimates this expansion could provide supper to an additional 140,000 kids in low-income areas.
  • Categorical Eligibility for Foster Children: USDA issued guidance and provided technical assistance to states to ensure that more than 400,000 children in foster care are certified to receive free meals in all USDA child nutrition programs.
  • Strengthening Direct Certification: USDA provided guidance, technical assistance and grant funding to states to improve their direct certification systems to help more children already receiving benefits from SNAP, TANF and FDPIR gain access to free school meals without the need for completing another eligibility form.
  • Implementing Community Eligibility: USDA offered, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee, to implement the new "community eligibility" approach to reimburse schools for meals without the need for paper applications.
  • Simplified Area Eligibility for Family Day Care Homes: USDA implemented a provision that helps more family day care home providers receive the maximum meal reimbursement based on the location of their family day care business rather than an income eligibility application.
  • Promoting School Breakfast Programs. USDA provided guidance for schools on the HHKFA provision requiring schools to conduct outreach on the availability of the School Breakfast Program. Research has shown that starting the day with a nutritious breakfast helps students stay alert and perform better in school.

In addition, USDA will continue to work with schools on improving the nutritional quality of food sold to children through six major components supported by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act:

  • Updated nutrition standards for school meals based on expert recommendations from the Institute of Medicine. USDA is reviewing over 132,000 comments from schools, States, parents and others on a proposed rule in order to complete a final rule.
  • Science-based standards for all foods sold in school. These first ever national standards will ensure that foods and beverages sold in vending machines and other venues on school campuses contribute to a healthy diet.
  • Increased funding for schools. The Act made the first real increase in school meal payments in 30 years – tied to strong performance in serving improved meals. The criteria to earn the increase will be ready when updated standards go into effect.
  • Common-sense standards for revenue provided to school food authorities from non-Federal sources, to ensure that these revenues keep pace with the Federal commitment to healthy school meals and properly align with costs.
  • Training and technical assistance to help schools achieve and monitor compliance. We are planning new training strategies to accompany the new nutrition standards.
  • Healthy offerings through the USDA Foods program. USDA Foods are a critical part of the National School Lunch Program, constituting approximately 15-20% of the school lunch plate. Guided by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, USDA has made sweeping changes in the nutritional quality of these foods to further reduce fat, sodium, and added sugars. The Act requires the Department to purchase a wide variety of USDA Foods that support healthy meals and develop model specifications for foods purchased and served in the National School Lunch Program.

Click here for new USDA Foods being offered to schools this year.

These school food improvements will be supported by other changes in the school environment, such as physical activity and nutrition education reforms, and strengthened local school wellness policies. School meals reach nearly 32 million children each school day nationwide, and many children consume as many as half their daily calories at school.

Release No.
0070.11

Contact:
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 10, 2010 – USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon today joined Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Paul Davis, acting director of AmeriCorps VISTA, and Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, to swear-in 46 members of the new National Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps, an AmeriCorps VISTA project. The new VISTA volunteers will work in both rural and urban areas in 18 states as part of a public-private partnership to increase access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for Americans in need.

"Increasing access to nutrition assistance for our most vulnerable populations is a top priority of the Obama administration and essential if we are going to win the future," said Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon. "Our partners at the federal, state and local levels are key to our efforts to reduce hunger, promote program access, and improve the overall health and nutrition of families across the country."

The new organization is part of the national Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA) AmeriCorps program started in l965 as the "domestic Peace Corps" to fight poverty at home. VISTA members serve in full-time, one-year volunteer positions in non-profit and public organizations. The project, led by the non-profit New York City Coalition Against Hunger, is funded jointly by USDA and the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, with matching funds provided by the Walmart Foundation.

Concannon also recognized the one year anniversary of Let's Move!, a comprehensive initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama with a goal of solving the problem of childhood obesity and promoting healthy lifestyles. This Obama administration priority is fundamentally changing the conversation about how we eat and stay active, helping to ensure future generations are ready to win the future. Learn more by visiting www.LetsMove.gov.

SNAP puts healthy food on the table for over 43 million people each month, half of whom are children. Formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, SNAP is the largest of the domestic food and nutrition assistance program administered by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service. Serving about 1 in 7 Americans each month, SNAP is the cornerstone of America's safety-net against hunger. However, only two-thirds of those eligible participate in SNAP, which underscores the importance of this project and other efforts aimed at increasing participation. SNAP also helps stimulate the economy. Every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates $9.00 in total community spending. The average monthly SNAP benefit is approximately $289 per household, which is spent in local grocery stores.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 14 other nutrition assistance programs, including the child nutrition programs. Through the direct certification process, all children participating in SNAP are automatically enrolled to receive free meals in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs.

Improving child nutrition is also a focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that was signed by President Obama on December 13, 2010. This legislation reauthorizes USDA'S child nutrition programs, including the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program, which serves nearly 32 million children each day. It will allow USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative. To learn more, visit www.LetsMove.gov.