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National Nutrition Month

Release No.
0097.11

Contact:
Cordelia Fox FNS Communications Western Region (414) 705-1311

LOS ANGELES, March 4, 2011 – Today, Agriculture USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon toured a local Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) clinic and highlight the impact of recent legislation reauthorizing the program. Concannon was joined by Western Regional Administrator for Food and Nutrition Service Allen Ng, at the visit to a clinic run by the largest WIC agency in the country, which serves approximately 4% of the nation's total and 23% of California's WIC recipients. While visiting Public Health Foundation Enterprises (PHFE), Concannon highlighted March as National Nutrition Month, toured the clinic, interacted with participants and children, and viewed a certification demonstration.

"The WIC food packages provide supplemental foods designed to meet the special nutritional needs of low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, non-breastfeeding postpartum women, infants and children up to five years of age who are at nutritional risk," Concannon said. "We share the responsibility – with state and local governments, community organizations and parents – of ensuring that our nation's children have the access to nutritious foods they need to get a good start in life. The Obama Administration has made significant investments to improve the health and well-being of America's children so that we out-educate the rest of the world."

During National Nutrition Month in March, USDA is encouraging people to include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat milk in their meals each day. These recommendations are included in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans that were recently released by USDA and HHS, which focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. Through its 15 nutrition assistance programs, USDA promotes access, resources and pathways for low-income Americans to lead a more healthful lifestyle.

One of USDA's 15 nutrition assistance programs, WIC safeguards the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and counseling and health service referrals.

The PHFE WIC Program provides services in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Sixty-one PHFE WIC Centers are strategically located in high-density areas of need serving 325,000 clients every month. Approximately 200 nutritionists and 500 paraprofessionals provide culturally appropriate services to eligible families.

Improving child nutrition is a focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that recently passed Congress and was signed by President Obama on December 13, 2010. This legislation authorizes USDA'S child nutrition programs, including WIC. The Act will help improve WIC by extending the certification period for children, supporting greater use of EBT technology (similar to a debit card) and expanding support for breastfeeding.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including WIC, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the National School Lunch Program, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. USDA administers these programs in partnership with state and local agencies and works with faith and community-based organizations to ensure that nutrition assistance is available to those in need. 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.
0040.13

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

School Breakfast Week, International School Meals Day and Childhood Nutrition to be Celebrated Throughout March

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2013 — Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack kicked off an exciting National Nutrition Month by marking the start of National School Breakfast Week (March 4-8), a time that highlights the importance of promoting healthy choices for our nation's children throughout the school day.

"Making sure that children get the best start to their day is part of our commitment to providing all of our children access to safe, nutritious, and well-balanced meals," said Secretary Vilsack. "Eating breakfast helps maintain a healthy weight and gives our youngest generation the greatest chance at success."

Every year, USDA partners with the School Nutrition Association to celebrate National School Breakfast Week. This year's theme is "Be a Star with School Breakfast," highlighting how eating a balanced breakfast at school can help students to shine. The USDA's School Breakfast Program provides a nutritious start to each school day for nearly 13 million children in over 91,000 schools and residential child care institutions. It offers school children of all economic backgrounds a well-balanced, healthy meal consistent with the latest nutrition science and dietary guidelines.

"Research shows that children learn better after a healthy breakfast," said Kevin Concannon, undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services. "Through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, we have an historic opportunity, which schools are embracing throughout the country, to make the healthy choice also the easy choice for children at school, from morning to afternoon."

Updated breakfast meal patterns, part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, begin to take effect in the coming school year, and will be phased in over three years. The new meal patterns support the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and are based on scientific recommendations from the Institute of Medicine.

"National Nutrition Month is a timely reminder to include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy at breakfast and at every meal, each day," Concannon said.

This week, USDA will also participate in the inaugural celebration of International School Meals Day (ISMD) on March 8, 2013. The concept for ISMD emerged from a recent collaboration between USDA and our counterparts in the United Kingdom, during which we engaged in an exchange of ideas, implementation strategies, and best practices in the area of food and nutrition policy. ISMD represents an opportunity to continue that beneficial exchange of policies, practices, and research, while raising awareness of the important role that nutrition education plays in child development. ISMD will also engage children around the world in classroom-level discussions of healthy eating habits in school and at home.

Schools selected to take part in this year's activities will focus on topics related to the school nutrition environment, such as the menu choices available in the cafeteria, classroom instruction on nutrition education, or growing and/or cooking food at school. Students will then discuss these topics with students in the U.K. via the Internet or by phone. Initially, 14 classrooms (grades 3-8) in the U.S. are now connected with 14 classrooms in Scotland. USDA plans to expand the initiative to include partnerships with additional countries in future years.

The 14 participating U.S. schools are:

  • Nathanael Greene Elementary School, Chicago, Ill.
  • JB Lancaster Elementary School, Madisonville, La.
  • Rolling Terrace Elementary School, Montgomery, Md.
  • Harmony Hills Elementary School, Silver Spring, Md.
  • Oak Grove Upper Elementary School, Hattiesburg, Miss.
  • Hampton Bays Middle School, Hampton Bays, N.Y.
  • Cartoogechaye Elementary School, Franklin, N.C.
  • Sterling Elementary School, Pineville, N.C.
  • AB Combs Elementary School, Wake County, N.C.
  • Washington Elementary School, Mt Lebanon, Pa.
  • Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Pittsburg, Pa.
  • M.B. Henderson Elementary School, Dallas, Texas
  • Holmes Middle School, Alexandria, Va.
  • Parklawn Elementary School, Alexandria, Va.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs that work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Learn more by visiting www.fns.usda.gov.

 

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