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Nutrition

SNAP E&T Learning Academy Builds National Leadership for the Program

As the labor market continues to strengthen, so too are SNAP Employment and Training (SNAP E&T) programs across the country. Since 2014, FNS has diligently worked with states to grow their SNAP E&T programs and adopt more effective, employer-driven practices that help SNAP participants find not just any job—but a good job that reduces their need for SNAP.

These efforts have been successful. The program has grown to serve more than 1 million SNAP participants each year and more and more states are seeking best practices and expertise on how to build a quality program that gets people jobs. The demand for this program is growing—and rightly so—the SNAP E&T program is one of the strongest assets we have to ensure that every SNAP participant has the opportunity to gain the skills they need to find a good job.

Taste Test: Behind the Scenes with USDA Foods

The USDA Foods Available List is a lot like any other menu, with dozens of healthy options for state agencies to order and distribute through USDA’s nutrition assistance programs.  And every year, foods are added or removed from the list based on customer demand and market conditions. Some offerings are modified to improve nutrition content or make the product and its packaging easier to work with in the kitchen or more acceptable to kids.

The USDA Foods program is a collaboration between the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the agency that procures the food, and the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the agency that distributes the food. This school year, the USDA Foods team’s goal for training and conferences is to provide more opportunities to taste new and reformulated products. That way, state agencies can confidently order them and school districts can incorporate them into their menus.

Connecting Health, Faith and Agriculture: How One Community is Using Agriculture to Support Community Health

In the rural community of Conetoe, North Carolina, residents are taking aim at the lack of access to healthy and nutritious food and its youth are leading the charge. In the predominately African American town, more than 60 youth participants of Conetoe Family Life Center (CFLC) have a direct role in the health and welfare of their community.

Conetoe Family Life Center was established in 2007 by Reverend Richard Joyner, a 2010 CNN Hero, to address persistent poverty and lack of access to healthy foods for the predominantly African American rural town of Conetoe, North Carolina.  As a result of CFLC’s efforts, the community has seen a dramatic decrease in negative health determinants.

Kick off a Healthy New Year with SuperTracker!

Do your New Year’s resolutions include a healthier eating style and more physical activity? Whether you find inspiration from a personal challenge, or by competing with others in a group, we have the tools to keep you motivated and help you reach your goals with updated features in SuperTracker, the food and physical tracking tool from the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP).

MyPlate, MyWins: Find Your Real Solutions for a Healthy New Year

Every January, Americans are bombarded with information about New Year’s resolutions. While many of us set our hopes high on January 1st, our commitment to our lofty resolutions tends to dwindle over time.  In fact, by June, less than half of us are still committed to accomplishing our New Year’s resolutions! One reason for this waning interest is that our resolutions often are unrealistic, incorporating extreme goals and expecting immediate perfection. We sabotage ourselves with these strategies. Instead, starting with small steps and celebrating milestones along the way are shown to be more helpful strategies in keeping resolutions. As you begin thinking about your resolutions for 2017, I encourage you to start with MyPlate, MyWins.

Let MyPlate, My Wins be a resource to help you turn your resolutions into real solutions for a healthy new year.

Real solutions are small, practical changes that add up to a healthier lifestyle over time. Real solutions do not have an end date; they are changes that can be incorporated into Americans’ lifestyles to help maintain a healthy eating style long term. USDA’s MyPlate, MyWins meets Americans where they are and helps to build healthier eating habits from there, rather than setting unrealistic goals at the start. MyPlate, My Wins allows Americans to personalize their goals and eating habits to fit their needs.

Minneapolis School Embraces Family-Style Dining

How do you create a better lunch experience for students? It all started with a conversation between Ginger Davis Kranz, Principal of Webster Elementary School, and the Minneapolis Public Schools’ Director of Food Service, Bertrand Weber. In September 2016, I was fortunate enough to visit Webster Elementary School in Minneapolis and see for myself how their family-style dining works. I’d like to share Webster Principal Ginger Davis Kranz’s inspiring blog about her school’s innovative and thoughtful approach to the students’ mealtime experience.

By Ginger Davis Kranz, Principal of Webster Elementary School

What if school lunchtime was more than just a wait in line and a race to find a seat and eat, but instead was more like a traditional family meal – a time when friends gather to enjoy their food, engage in meaningful conversation, build relationships and gain important life skills? After reflecting on this question, Webster Elementary, a Minneapolis public school, made the decision to abandon the typical chaotic and impersonal lunchroom experience and create a family-style dining program.

Fighting Hunger: Closing the Summer Feeding Gap

Summer is tough to enjoy when you’re hungry. It’s a hard reality that many kids from low-income households face when school is out and the weather turns sunny. To help close the summer feeding gap, the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer demonstration offers a new model to do just that.

Without the daily nutrition provided by the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, many families facing poverty are also experiencing its most difficult symptom: hunger. USDA has several tools to help solve this problem, with the newest addition being the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children demonstration project, commonly referred to as Summer EBT.

It's Almost Time to Think about New Year's Resolutions...Almost!

The holiday season is a wonderful, exciting, and incredibly busy time.  Between the celebrations, family gatherings, and the food (so much food!), healthy eating isn’t likely the first thing on your mind. And that’s OK.

In a few short weeks, many of us will be turning our attention to the new year. What will 2017 bring? What are our personal goals for the year?  Every January there is an overload of information about New Year’s resolutions, and many people will set goals that focus on health, fitness, and nutrition.  But while we often set high hopes on January 1, less than half are still committed to accomplishing our resolutions months later.

SNAP E&T Boosts Job Skills, Transforms Lives

On a recent trip to California,  I took part in a wonderful event in San Francisco’s Mission District - also known as “The Mission” - one of the most racially and economically diverse areas in the nation.  After parking the car, Jesus Mendoza Jr., Regional Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service’s Western Region, escorted me to a room buzzing with activity and excitement. Now given my role as Administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), you might expect that we were visiting a food bank or a meal program for low-income children.

But this visit wasn’t about food.

It was about jobs!

Taking Action for School Nutrition Success

Developing a school menu of healthy, student-approved meals is challenging, make no mistake about it.  But it is achievable with the right support and resources.  That’s why the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) have partnered to create the Team Up for School Nutrition Success (Team Up) initiative.

Team Up provides school nutrition professionals the opportunity to network and learn best practices from their peers.  Those who have developed tips and tricks to create delicious school menus, increase participation, practice food safety and manage financially-sound program budgets. And with the help and guidance of peer mentors, Team Up attendees can turn their ideas into goals by creating focused action plans for their district.