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HealthierNextGen

Students from Every State and Territory Show Off Local Pride with MyPlate-Inspired Meals at the 5th Annual Kids' "State Dinner"

At the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, we are excited about using local foods and flavors to create healthy and delicious plates. Through our MyPlate, MyState initiative, we are working to connect American families with the foods grown in their communities – raising awareness that all healthy foods and flavors have a place on MyPlate.  As part of that initiative it was my privilege to attend the 5th annual Kids’ “State Dinner” last month, when the winners of the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, were honored for their MyPlate-inspired recipes.  For the first time this year’s contest, in which young chefs ages 8-12 from across the country create healthy recipes and show off their food know-how, included an emphasis on local and regional foods through MyPlate, MyState.

It was thrilling to see such creative approaches to amplifying local and regional foods. The winners truly captured the agricultural, historical, and cultural significance of their communities through food. I had the pleasure of meeting many amazing young chefs in attendance, including 11-year-old Abhijith from Missouri, who incorporated local catfish into his recipe, and 12-year-old Grace from West Virginia, who picked the vegetables in her dish from a community garden.

New What's Cooking? Recipes and Cooking Videos Help School Food Service and Home Cooks Make Mouthwatering Meals

USDA’s Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services just released 50 new, mouth-watering recipes for schools chefs on our What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl website.  Some are existing USDA recipes that we’ve updated, while others are brand new recipes that students will love.  These tasty, kid-approved recipes are tailored for large quantity food service operations in 25, 50, or 100 portions.  And each recipe includes a nutritional breakdown as well as crediting information on how the recipe contributes toward updated meal pattern requirements for the National School Lunch Program and other USDA child nutrition programs.

The 50 recipes include main dishes and side dishes featuring more nutrient-rich ingredients such as whole grains, dark green and red/orange vegetables, and beans/legumes than ever before.  And an additional 150 recipes are being developed and will be posted throughout the next year!  These recipes will provide a ready-to-go resource for school nutrition professionals looking for delicious, nutrient-rich dishes that will make it easy to meet meal pattern requirements and satisfy hungry kids.

SNAP-Ed Helps Spur Healthy Choices

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

Encouraging all Americans to make healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices is a top priority for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). One of the most important ways we do that is through nutrition education provided by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

SNAP-Ed delivers evidence-based, coordinated nutrition education and obesity prevention services and information to people participating in SNAP, as well as other eligible low-income families and communities.  Activities provided through SNAP-Ed encourage physical activity, work to improve nutrition, and prevent obesity.  These activities may include:

Helping Kids Stay Active and Healthy This Summer

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

With summer just around the corner, it’s the perfect time for communities and parents to start thinking about activities for kids when school is out.  With deliciously juicy local fruits and veggies coming into season and, in many areas, warmer weather that invites summer play, it may seem logical that keeping kids healthy would be easier during summer months. However, without the structure of school and afterschool sports, those lazy summer days can sometimes lead to constant snacking and endless hours playing video games and watching TV.

For some children, the summer months can mean food insecurity because they no longer have access to regular school meals. That’s where summer meal programs can help, not only by offering free healthy meals, but also by providing opportunities for nutrition education and physical activity.

As Summer Draws Near, We Set Lofty Goals to Feed More Kids than Ever

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

You can tell by the smiles on the faces of Bradley, Alex, and Chris Lanthier that a well-fed kid is a happy kid! It’s smiling faces like these that make my job as Rural Housing Service Administrator so rewarding - these guys look as if they don’t have a care in the world. USDA Rural Housing Service is making a difference by helping kids, just be kids!

Yet it’s important to remember: unlike kids, hunger doesn’t take a vacation during the summer. Unfortunately, child hunger peaks during the summer months when kids from low-income families no longer have access to school meals.

Raising Awareness of CACFP Across the Nation

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA is highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation. We could not have done this work without the support of our partners. Below is a story from one of our partners, the National CACFP Sponsors Association.  Family child care homes, as well as some child care centers and afterschool programs, participate in Child and Adult Care Food Programs under sponsoring organizations. The ongoing support and training that sponsors routinely provide helps CACFP providers serve nutritious meals and keep children healthy.

By Vicki Lipscomb, President, National CACFP Sponsors Association

Did you know CACFP provides 1.9 billion meals and snacks for over 3.3 million children?

Hunger is unacceptable to everyone. To combat the food insecurity that one in four Americans face, there are a number of government programs designed to provide access to healthy food. Many people know about USDA’s school lunch program and you may have even heard of the WIC program, but did you know that the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides 1.9 billion meals and snacks to over 3.3 million children in child care centers, family care homes and after-school programs?  In addition, CACFP provides that same access to over 115,000 elderly persons in adult day care.

Stretching the Clock and Enhancing the Food Aisles Make for Better Eating in Tribal Nations

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

Food insecurity, and the social factors associated with it, can have a profound impact on any U.S. demographic. But two Indian reservations have recently found ways to tackle this very issue and illustrate how a little bit of brainstorming and community-building can go a long way to feed kids and grown-ups.

Ask any parent, and they’ll tell you a good chunk of their income goes toward putting food on the table. While that is taken as a given, what isn’t always obvious are the challenges parents encounter and the behind-the-scenes struggles moms and dads face to make sure there’s enough money to take care of this basic need. School meals are an important part of a child’s daily nutrition. But when the school day is done – and often when children are most hungry – that’s when parents may feel the pinch the most.

Mid-Atlantic Health Care Partner Network; Finding New Ways to Revitalize the Health and Wellness of Our Communities

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

Make no mistake: Hunger is a health issue. There are clear associations between food insecurity and poor health outcomes, and health providers across the country know that good health doesn’t depend solely on medical care. And this is where USDA comes in.

I frequently interact with community health organizations in the Mid-Atlantic region. Through conversations and the observations of physicians, community clinics and hospitals, we understand that USDA’s nutrition assistance programs are a natural partner to patient care.  And so, in my region we created a platform for sharing ideas on how to target our nutrition programs at the places and with the people who directly provide health services in our communities.

Funding to Support Healthy Meals and Environments in Our Nation's Schools and Child Care

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

As the old proverb goes, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Most educators live by this adage, agreeing that teaching a skill and educating pupils on the importance of that skill will “feed (them) for a lifetime.”

USDA agrees with this proverb. We believe that teaching children how to eat healthy, and educating them on the importance of proper nutrition, is crucial to the health and wellbeing of our next generation.  And to demonstrate our support of healthy eating and nutrition education, USDA launched the Team Nutrition initiative more than two decades ago.

Fresh Produce - The Original Smart Snack

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation (“The Alliance”) was founded as a response to the growing rate of childhood obesity. To combat this epidemic and to help make the healthy choice the easy choice, the Alliance created the Healthy Schools Program in 2006, launched in 231 schools in 13 states. The Healthy Schools Program has since grown to become the nation’s most extensive effort to prevent childhood obesity in schools and is now building healthier school environments for more than 17 million students in more than 29,000 schools in every state and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

By Jill Turley, MS, RD/LD and Joshua Moore of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation

Produce is packed full of the nutrients youth need to learn and play, whether at school, in an out-of-school time program, or at home. Children should be exposed to a variety of fruits and vegetables to help ensure these products are what come to mind when reaching for a snack.

Innovations in the produce industry can help with just that! The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, in collaboration with the United Fresh Produce Association, has identified several kid-friendly, single-serve, fresh produce snacks that meet USDA’s Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards and offer easy, delicious snack options for schools or out-of-school time programs.