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.
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.
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/.