March is National Nutrition Month, a time to focus new energy on giving kids healthy food options throughout the school day. Students consume up to half of their daily calories in school, so access to wholesome meals and snacks is important to their overall health. In fact, research shows that students living in states with strong nutrition laws gain less weight than those in states without such policies.More info
''Schools across the country continue to struggle with implementing the first new nutritional guidelines in 15 years governing meals served to nearly 32 million U.S. students every day. The new requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National School Lunch Program, put in place in January 2012, include eliminating full-fat milk, boosting whole-grain foods and reducing total calories on menus, and some schools are finding it a challenge to make their menus work under these regulations. Amid pressure from government officials, however, the USDA recently loosened up on some of its requirements on meat and grains.''
'''It wasn’t a big surprise that [the USDA] made those adjustments,' says Erik Olson, director of food programs at the Pew Health Group. 'They decided schools needed some time to do this. Standards for school meals have not been updated in 17 years. Right now, it looks like [these changes] are taking care of the issues some schools were facing that were causing initial growing pains.'
The USDA was unwilling to make more sweeping concessions possibly because there are some school districts that are implementing the new regulations with little difficulty and are not reporting major complaints from their students. A survey from the California Endowment reported that 82% of California students, for example, say they support the changes. The Carrollton City Schools district in Georgia was named one of several school district “success stories” by the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, a joint effort between the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to provide a nonpartisan analysis of school nutrition.''
Jessica Donze Black, director for the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, calls the modification change a “pragmatic and scientifically sound decision,” and San Francisco-based school food reformer Dana Woldow agrees: “[The calorie caps] will automatically limit the amount of potentially fatty protein and grains going into the meals. I think the days of seeing giant cheeseburgers the size of your head in school cafeterias may be over.”More info
It was food delivery day at Glen Landing Middle School in Blackwood, New Jersey, and the 42-year-old walk-in freezer went kaput. Again.More info
This is the second in a series of reports that summarizes how schools are putting in place updated U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, meal standards and the challenges they must overcome to reach full implementation.More info
infrastructure. More info
Schools would be better able to serve healthy, appealing meals if investments were made in new kitchen equipment and infrastructure.More info
Only 1 in 10 school districts nationwide (12 percent) has all the kitchen equipment needed to serve healthy foods, according to a new report issued by the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project. The report makes recommendations for how schools, policymakers, industry, and philanthropic partners can work together to make these investments and provide healthy, appealing foods more efficiently. It is the first national assessment of districts’ kitchen equipment and infrastructure needs.More info
"In other words, children will be able to buy only foods that their parents would find generally acceptable,' says Jessica Donze Black, director of the Kids' Safe and Healthful Foods Project, a non-profit, nonpartisan group helping to improve school foods for our kids. If your school participates in the National School Lunch Program (most public schools in the country do), they must adhere to these new snack regulations by the start of the 2014 school year.More info