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national school lunch week

Team Up and Show Your Spirit for School Meals!

The school nutrition community is celebrating National School Lunch Week from October 10-14. This year’s theme “Show Your Spirit” is all about encouraging parents, students and school officials to show their spirit for school lunch. Through the Team Up for School Nutrition Success (Team Up) initiative, school nutrition professionals have teamed up to provide nutritious and appealing meals to students, offering plenty of reasons for all of us to show spirit for awesome school meals!

The Team Up initiative, created through a partnership between the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN), provides school nutrition professionals a unique learning experience.  The initiative is designed to enhance schools’ food service operations by providing training and peer-to-peer mentorship to school nutrition professionals who want to maintain a healthy environment and strong student meal program participation. The goal of this training is to help schools find simple ways to meet the updated USDA nutrition standards from the 2010 Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA), while increasing the number of students enjoying healthy and flavorful school meals.

Make a Cafeteria Date to Eat a Healthy Lunch with Your Child at School

More than 50 million children around the country attend schools that participate in USDA’s National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Programs.  And not only are their meals full of nutritious ingredients – with 99 percent of schools nationwide reporting that they are successfully meeting the updated nutrition standards – their entire learning environment fosters healthy habits now and throughout the rest of their lives.  During National School Lunch Week 2016, USDA and partners like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, are celebrating this progress.

It’s National School Lunch Week and this year we have more to celebrate than ever before!

Over the past decade, significant policy changes have sparked a national movement that has transformed the school nutrition landscape and created a new healthier era for school foods. Many of these policies were initiated by USDA, including updated nutrition standards for the meals and snacks schools offer, as well as updated requirements for local wellness policies.

Thanks to these developments and incredible efforts by schools to put them in place, millions of students across America not only have healthier meals, snacks, and drinks at school – they’re also learning healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

Celebrating Progress: National School Lunch Week 2016

Cross-posted from the Food Research and Action Center blog:

Last week, children from more than a dozen schools and child care centers across the nation joined First Lady Michelle Obama for her final harvest of the White House garden. This event was more than just photo ops and shaking hands; kids got their hands dirty, harvesting the produce they later used to prepare a healthy meal. This was a neat experience for the students who participated, but it was also representative of the types of activities students are participating in all around the country. School gardens, nutritious snacks, farm to lunch tray meals, and nutrition education are all part of the healthier school environments students are experiencing each and every day.

Today kicks off National School Lunch Week 2016 and continues our month-long observance of Farm to School Month, and this year, there’s a lot to celebrate. More than 50 million children around the country attend schools that participate in USDA’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Not only are their meals full of nutritious foods – with 99 percent of schools nationwide reporting that they are successfully meeting the updated nutrition standards – their entire learning environment fosters healthy habits now and throughout the rest of their lives. The Smart Snacks Final Rule aligned the standards for snacks offered to students during the school day with the nutrition standards that apply to lunch and breakfast. In addition, the recently published Local School Wellness Policy Final Rule ensures that any food and beverage marketing kids are exposed to during the school day must adhere to the Smart Snacks standards, sending a consistent, positive message to students about the importance of healthy eating.

Georgia School Gardens Nourish Healthy Habits

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 celebrated its fifth anniversary last month, and I can tell you it has made a difference!  I think back on the past five years and am proud of the strides we’ve made in giving students access to more local and healthy food in our schools.

Accompanied by FNS Administrator Audrey Rowe, I had a wonderful visit with two Georgia elementary schools this fall. Our trip to Alexander II Magnet School in Bibb County and Westside Elementary School in Houston County highlighted 2015 National School Lunch Week celebrations (October 12-16) and offered a great example of progress on the school meals front.

Tales from a School Food Service Director: It's all about the Brand

This guest blog showcases the success story of a school food service director in an upper-class suburb of Boston.  The director discusses some of the creative methods her school meal program uses to boost participation and, thereby, promote health and nutrition in their district.

By Gail Koutroubas, School Food Service Director in Andover, MA

For 10 years, I’ve been a school food service director at Andover School District in Massachusetts.  My district of 5,900 students lies in an upper-class suburb of Boston. The median income is approximately $140,000 with just 7 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced-priced lunch.

Top Chef's Carla Hall Supports a Healthier Next Generation. See How!

Baked parmesan fish, butternut squash with black beans, honey lemon chicken… No, these aren’t items on a high-end restaurant menu.  They’re delicious dishes being offered in America’s school lunchrooms! This National School Lunch Week, we’re celebrating school meal programs around the country and renewed efforts to provide nutritious and appetizing meals featuring more fruits and vegetables and whole grains with less calories, sodium, and trans fats.  As a result of school nutrition professionals’ hard work, our kids’ meals are healthier than ever before.  And USDA research confirms that children who participate in the National School Lunch Program are more likely to consume fruits, vegetables, milk, and other important components of a healthy diet than their peers.

Celebrate National School Lunch Week 2015

The fall season has arrived and with it the National School Lunch Week celebration! During the second week of October, USDA recognizes the important role school meal programs play in providing healthy, appetizing foods to their students. Over the last several weeks, USDA leaders visited schools to experience their meal programs first hand. And they were quite impressed! Now more than ever, today’s schools encourage healthy choices by featuring creative dishes and a variety of fruits and vegetables. USDA also got the chance to tour school gardens that harvest fresh ingredients and allow students to learn where their food comes from. It was exciting to see the many ways schools get students excited about health and nutrition and the important strides made to secure a healthier next generation.

After only three years since the updated nutrition standards were implemented, more than 96 percent of schools nationwide are meeting the standards.  The impact is nothing short of inspiring. School lunch revenue has increased by up to $450 million; teachers report that students are more attentive in the classroom; and a Harvard study found students are now eating more fruits and vegetables!

Connecting Schoolchildren to Healthy Food Choices

Last month, schools all across the nation celebrated National School Lunch Week, honoring the importance of healthy meals to education.  I was able to join in one of these celebrations right here in the national Capital area, and the great things I saw at Takoma Park (Md.) Middle School are still fresh in my mind.

I was already aware of the commitment that the Division of Nutrition and Food Services of Montgomery County Public Schools has made to serving healthy meals, as well some of the important strides they have taken across this large district.  But on this trip, I wanted to see first-hand how Takoma Park Principal Alicia Teeny and her teaching staff connect children in the classroom to healthy food choices.

How USDA Celebrated National School Lunch Week

Last week, USDA celebrated National School Lunch Week from October 12 -18 with exciting local events across the country.  It was a chance for USDA staff to meet with students and hear what they think of the newer, fresher options in the lunch room.  It was also an opportunity for USDA officials to say “thank you” to the hardworking school food service professionals who make healthy school lunches possible.

Healthy meals at school are an essential part of every child’s health, development, and academic success.   Students’ ability to learn in the classroom, grow up healthy and reach their fullest potential depends on the environment they learn in.  And that is why Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, so that all our nation’s students can experience a healthier school environment with more nutritious options.

National School Lunch Week Offers a Time to Celebrate Children's Health

On Friday, President Obama recognized October 12-18 as National School Lunch Week with an official proclamation.  The message thanks hardworking school food service professionals, the tireless staff who demonstrate a daily commitment to providing schoolchildren with proper nutrition to enrich their lives in the classroom and beyond.

Since President Harry Truman signed the National School Lunch Act in 1946, schools have served more than 220 billion lunches!  Meals that have enabled scores of American children the opportunity to grow, learn and thrive.  And with more than 30 million students participating in the National School Lunch Program each day, balanced meals at school play a key role in fostering a healthier next generation.