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childhood nutrition

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

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 Jack to improve nutrition and physical activity at their schools and in their communities. Jack serves as student ambassador for his home state of Delaware.

In late July, he and a select group of top ambassadors trained like athletes at the 2015 Fuel Up to Play 60 Summit in Chicago—his first visit ever to the Windy City. In addition to playing flag football, making friends and having a great time, the ambassadors learned all about nutrition and the benefits of getting at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Most importantly, they learned the leadership and communication skills necessary to work with students and school staff to deliver FUTP 60 activities that meet their school’s wellness goals. Those goals could include introducing salad bars, planting and harvesting fruit and vegetables in a school garden or inviting an NFL player to talk about all aspects of wellness, to name a few.

Seminole Sprint Puts the FUN back in Fundraising

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 Enrichment

Those of us who work in schools know that the lunch line is not the only place where kids get their calories at school. That’s why we were pleased to see the USDA Smart Snacks in School standards go into effect last summer, which applied to food and beverages sold outside of the school meals program, including in-school fundraisers.

Spout Springs School of Enrichment wasn’t worried about meeting the new standards. For the past few years, our school traded food-based fundraisers for our annual Seminole Sprint, a fun run organized by our Parent Teacher Organization, which has raised more than $40,000 in one day to benefit our school!

A Case Study in Wellness at PS 145 - Supporting Schools and Supporting Nutrition Standards

The following guest blog, part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlights the work of Wellness in the Schools, a non-profit organization working on school nutrition in New York City.  Organizations such as this can be a great resource for teachers and students in creating healthier school environments.

By Chef Greg Silverman, Managing Director, Wellness in the Schools

This year, as school came to a close, the kids at PS145/West Prep Academy in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights neighborhood were feeling healthier, more fit, and more focused, thanks to two programs offered through Wellness in the Schools (WITS), a non-profit organization dedicated to making public schools healthier places to learn and grow. The programs are through WITS Cook for Kids and Coach for Kids programs, chefs and coaches support school wellness by providing staff training in the cafeteria and recess yard, and helping schools to transition to healthier meals and more active play times.

USDA Helps Plant a Seed for a Healthier Next Generation of Inner City Students

As teams of agriculturalists across America celebrated National Agricultural Day on March 18, a group of volunteers and professionals arrived at Miller Grove Middle School in Lithonia, Georgia.  They were there to give a hands-on outdoor lesson on how to build, plant and maintain a school garden to a group of Atlanta metro-area students who have likely never experienced what it’s like to grow their own food.

On this made-to-order, cool and clear morning, just two days before the official start to spring, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Dr. Joe Leonard was the first to share remarks.  He began by thanking Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for his commitment to providing community gardens to underserved communities. “Miller Grove School is a perfect example of how partnerships between the federal government (USDA’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights and Natural Resource Conservation Service), non-profit organizations (The Stewart Foundation and Two Rivers Resource Conservation and Development Council) and the DeKalb County School District can work together on behalf of children.”

A Student's View: Healthier School, Brighter Future

The following guest blog from a Nebraska high school student is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting healthy meals in schools and the impact of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country.  We thank these students, parents, teachers, and school nutrition professionals for sharing their stories!

By Morgan Ryan, student, Firth, Nebraska

When I started my sophomore year at Norris High School in Firth, Nebraska, I was unhealthy and both my self-confidence and grades suffered as a result. I averaged C’s in most of my classes and pretty much kept to myself at school.

A Student's View: Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Ambassador Speaks Up for Youth in Washington, D.C.

The following guest blog is from a high school student from Yankton, South Dakota that was invited to discuss the implementation of USDA’s Smart Snacks in Schools rule at a meeting hosted by the Pew Charitable trusts last fall.  The blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting healthy meals in schools and the impact of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country.  We thank these students, parents, teachers, and school nutrition professionals for sharing their stories!

By: Patrick Binder, student, Yankton, South Dakota

Aristotle once said, “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” As a young person, I recognize the issues that face my peers. When the food service director at my school approached me about being on a wellness council, I was ecstatic. It was an opportunity presented by an adult to engage youth in decision-making. I continue to meet with the wellness council in my district, where we work to positively impact the wellness policy of my school.

Super Bowl "Super Kid" Promotes Exercise, Healthy Eating

Minutes before the National Football League (NFL) teams of Super Bowl XLIX took the field, a middle school student from Orlando, Fla., had the honor of handing the game ball to an NFL official for the kickoff. But Bobby did much more than hand off that football. As this year’s NFL Play 60 “Super Kid,” the 12-year-old boy helped to inspire students across America to exercise daily and eat healthier foods.

He accomplished this feat through his relentless work with the Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) program, an outreach and education initiative founded by the National Dairy Council and the NFL, in collaboration with USDA. The program encourages youth in nearly 73,000 schools, representing almost 36 million students, to consume nutrient-rich foods—low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruit, vegetables and whole grains—and achieve 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

Healthy and Happy Students in D.C. Public Schools

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! To learn more about FNS nutrition assistance efforts, follow us on twitter at twitter.com/usdanutrition

Helping Rhode Island Students Fuel Up to Succeed with Breakfast

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 Jane Q Vergnani, Nutrition Specialist for New England Dairy & Food Council

As a transplant Rhode Islander – or as my 4-year-old daughter says, “Little Rhody’er” – who has lived, gone to school and worked as a nutrition specialist for the New England Dairy & Food Council in the state for over seven years, I am passionate about helping students succeed.

Through my work with Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school nutrition and physical activity program created by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League, in cooperation with the USDA, I have the opportunity to visit and work with many schools throughout Rhode Island.

Getting Students Involved in Wellness

Today’s Cafeteria Stories contribution comes from Dr. Robert Lewis of the El Monte School District in Southern California.  Dr. Lewis describes the success that his urban school district has had with involving students in wellness.  His district currently has 14 schools with Silver HealthierUS School Challenge awards.

Guest post by Dr. Robert S. Lewis, SNS, Director of Nutrition Services, El Monte City School District (Calif.)

At El Monte City School District, our students are actively involved in setting wellness goals, mentoring others, and participating in taste tests.  For the past twenty years or so, the United States has seen a steady rise in childhood obesity and juvenile type 2 diabetes.  These are the epidemics of our time.  We can solve them.  But it will take all of us working together.  What does that mean or look like?  That means community members will need to become more involved in student wellness efforts at the school level as well as the municipal level.