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Healthy Meals and Healthy Kids

Today we celebrate an historic achievement on behalf of kids across America. We have accomplished a critical step on the road to deliver healthier, more nutritious food to our nation’s schoolchildren.  Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture released the final rule that sets the standards for critical improvements to the child nutrition programs that serve millions of children across the country every day.

How One School in Georgia Handles The Most Important Meal of the Day

Some say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I have to agree especially when it comes to children. Starting the day with a healthy breakfast helps keep kids alert and focused on learning rather than lunch. But not every child eats a nutritious breakfast at home. In fact, even though 32 million students participate in the National School Lunch Program each day, only 12 million students eat a school breakfast daily. That means we have to continue to work to get those school breakfast numbers up!

Healthy School Meals Fuel S.W.A.G. and Success

In August I went back to school with students in Albany and Newton, Ga., to see how healthy school meals help students get their “S.W.A.G. on” and prepare for success.

In Albany, 400 Sherwood Acres Elementary Magnet School students celebrated school breakfast, many wearing S.W.A.G. t-shirts, which stands for “Students with Academic Greatness!”

Vanessa Hayes, Dougherty County Schools Director of Child Nutrition Services, explained, “We understand that good nutrition is the fuel for the educational vehicle.”

Secretary's Column: A Healthier Back to School

Right now, parents are making sure their children are ready to head back to school after the summer.  Their checklist to get ready might include new shoes or a new backpack - paper, pens and other supplies.

At USDA, we are working to add another item to the list: nutritious meals and healthy lifestyles for all of America’s children.

If we want to build a strong economy and win the future, then we also need to win the race to educate our kids.  And that means making sure that the 32 million kids who eat school lunches every day are fueled by the healthiest, most nutritious food we can provide.

A Little Help from Friends: Training Peer Counselors to Promote Breastfeeding in Texas

Here at FNS, we are working hard to increase breastfeeding rates through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. One of the ways we’re doing this is by using peer counselors who can provide more effective support to other breastfeeding mothers.

In July, I attended the “Breastfeeding Peer Counseling” course, which was hosted by the Food and Nutrition Service’s Southwest Regional Office and a nonprofit organization called Every Mother Inc. This organization provides counseling, lactation training and resources, and it was great to have them on hand for the training.  We also drew on the expertise of the national WIC staff, which directs the WIC program in serving over 9 million women, infants and children each month.

Big Day in the Big D – 154 schools receive HealthierUS School Challenge awards

Cross posted from the Let's Move! blog.

May 25 was a fabulous day in Dallas as I presented 154 HealthierUS School Challenge awards to schools of the Dallas Independent School District – the greatest number to a single school district thus far. 78 schools received gold awards and another 76 earned bronze level awards.  And, Texas leads the nation with 228 out of 1155 schools in 42 states that have earned awards.

Getting Kids off to the Right Start with Water and Milk!

When the First Lady kicked off the Let’s Move! initiative last year, she said that her primary goal is to end childhood obesity. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act gets to the heart of this effort by helping schools, parents, and communities make health and nutrition a priority for kids.  Among the law’s many reforms, schools that participate in the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) school lunch program will have to make drinking water available for free to students in the cafeteria during lunch.  With this change we want to make the healthy choice the easy choice for our kids.

Schools must also offer at least two choices of low fat or fat free milk.  These changes are consistent with what is recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, just updated earlier this year. The Dietary Guidelines are a set of science-based recommendations that include many tips for improving health and wellness.

Webinar for Tribal Leaders: Beginning Consultation for Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010

Our commitment to American Indian and Alaska Native leaders, members, and communities is one of great importance to the Obama administration and to me as USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. This past fall, the White House concluded its second Tribal Nations Conference which provided a venue for tribal leaders to engage in dialogue with high-ranking officials on a wide range of social, economic and political challenges facing Indian country.

I would like to continue the dialogue and invite tribal leaders or their delegated representatives to formally consult on how we can improve the health and nutrition of our children in Indian Country.