Oct. 22, 2013,
The Washington Post
By Tim Carman
More than 40 percent of the U.S. public school districts that responded to a historic census said they were participating in a program that helps bring fresh, local produce to school cafeterias. The percentage of participating schools was even higher in Maryland, Virginia, and the District, where the program has taken deep root.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) first-ever census of school districts across the country revealed how popular the national Farm to School program has become in recent years: About 43 percent of U.S. school districts — or about 38,600 schools — bought local produce for their students during the 2011-2012 school year, investing more than $354 million in farms near their communities. Another 13 percent said they would be participating in the program “in the near future.” Continue reading
Oct. 16, 2013,
The New York Times
By Courtney E. Martin
What if the secret to getting kids to eat healthier is to stop focusing on food?
In spring 2013, the San Francisco Unified School District (S.F.U.S.D.) began a five-month collaboration with the design firm IDEO to re-imagine the school food system. This effort might not sound unique. Childhood obesity has become a hot topic, in large part thanks to the first lady’s Let’s Move! campaign, and projects by high-profile chefs like Jamie Oliver and Alice Waters have aimed at getting fresh, healthy foods in schools.
In this case, however, the adults aren’t as concerned with what students are eating as they are with how they are eating.
“When adults dine, we don’t just think about the food,” explained Orla O’Keeffe, the executive director of policy and operations. “The food is important, but so is what’s going on around it: the ambience, the service, the company. Why would we assume kids are any different?” Continue reading
Sept. 29, 2013,
By Mary Clare Jalonick
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says 524 schools — out of about 100,000 — have dropped out of the federally subsidized national school lunch program since the government introduced new standards for healthier foods last year.
The new standards have been met with grumbling from school nutrition officials who say they are difficult and expensive to follow, conservatives who say the government shouldn’t be dictating what kids eat and — unsurprisingly — from some children who say the less-greasy food doesn’t taste as good. But USDA says the vast majority of schools are serving healthier food, with some success.
Data the department is planning to release Sept. 30 shows that 80 percent of schools say they have already met the requirements, which went into place at the beginning of the 2012 school year. About a half dropped out of the program. Continue reading
Oct. 2, 2013,
NBC Bay Area
By Eleanor Yang Su
Almost everything about a school cafeteria meal has a regulation. The federal government caps the amount of fat and salt in breakfasts and lunches. It sets minimum standards for servings of fruit, vegetables, grains, milk, and meat.
But one widely used and often-overused product has no official limits: sugar.
As Congress faces increased scrutiny over subsidies to the sugar industry, nutritionists and anti-obesity crusaders are focusing on the amount of sugar in school meals – and asking whether regulations governing school lunches deliberately exclude limits on sugar to favor a powerful industry.
Recent research shows that sugar levels in school meals are more than double what is recommended for the general public. Elementary school lunch menus contain 115 percent of the recommended daily calories from added sugars and fats, according to a November study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service. Middle school and high school lunch menus also are sugar- and fat-heavy, averaging between 59 and 74 percent of the recommended amounts. Continue reading
Sept. 23, 2013,
International Business Times
By Patricia Rey Mallén
It is a well-known fact that the United States is the country in the world with the largest obesity rate. But it isn’t anymore. A report by the United Nations revealed that the United States came in second to its southern neighbor, Mexico. The new data, published in July 2013, shows that 32.8 percent of Mexicans are overweight — a full percentage point over the number of Americans.
President Enrique Peña Nieto, whose administration has been going through an intense few months of political reforms, has begun taking measures to fight the trend. The first, taking a page from New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, has attacked sugary drinks, which have been blamed for the burgeoning rate of overweight citizens. Continue reading
Sept. 27, 2013,
The Washington Post
By Lenny Bernstein
Any parent who has fixed a nutritious school lunch only to find it untouched in a backpack the next morning will be heartened by new federal rules that will take effect in schools nationwide in the fall of 2014. That’s when laws will require school vending machines, stores and “a la carte” lunch menus to provide only healthful foods. So if a child hits the cafeteria line for pizza, the cheese on that slice will be relatively low in fat and sodium and the crust probably will be made from whole grains. And snackers will find nuts, granola bars, and water in vending machines instead of candy bars, potato chips, and sugary sodas. A 2001 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed that children in the school breakfast program, many of whom eat school-provided lunches, consume as much as half their calories each day at school. A 2009 study showed that sugar-sweetened beverages add 112 calories to the average elementary school student’s daily diet. Continue reading
Sept. 26, 2013,
The Wall Street Journal
McDonald’s is partnering with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the Clinton Foundation and American Heart Association, to increase customers’ access to fruit and vegetables and help families and children to make informed choices in keeping with balanced lifestyles. President Bill Clinton, founder of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, Don Thompson, President and CEO of McDonald’s, and Dr. Howell Wechsler, CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, announced the groundbreaking Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment today at the 2013 CGI Annual Meeting in New York City.
McDonald’s worked with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to develop a comprehensive plan for 20 of the restaurant chain’s largest markets. Continue reading
Sept. 12, 2013,
By Amanda L. Chan
The first lady wants you to drink more water.
On a call announcing Michelle Obama’s newest healthy living initiative Sept. 11, Let’s Move! Executive Director Sam Kass explained that the White House is working with cities, private companies, and public taps to promote the message to “drink up.”
Participating companies include Brita, Poland Spring, Evian, Dasani, Voss and others, which will carry a “Drink Up” logo on their bottles, and participating cities include Chicago, Los Angeles County, Houston and, appropriately, Watertown, Wis., where the first lady is visiting Sept. 12 to kick off the initiative. Continue reading
Sept. 18, 2013,
The Washington Post
They may not be binging on broccoli, but some University of New Hampshire (UNH) students are at least pausing before they fill up on fried food, thanks to dishware designed to remind them about healthy options.
Two years after the federal government abandoned the food pyramid as a symbol for healthful eating and adopted an image of a plate instead, the university has gone a step further by printing dietary guidelines directly on plates used in campus dining halls.
The so-called Wildcat Plates, named after the school’s mascot, offer a bit more detail than the “My Plate” graphic promoted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). While the USDA image shows a plate divided into four segments labeled “fruits,” ‘’vegetables,” ‘’grains,” and “proteins,” the Wildcat plate specifies “lean protein” and “whole grains” and offers suggestions such as “try whole wheat pasta, brown rice, or quinoa.” Continue reading
Sept. 9, 2013,
By JoNel Aleccia
Overall obesity rates for American kids may have leveled off, but a new report finds that children and teens at the far end of the spectrum are getting heavier, faster — with about 5 percent now classified as “severely obese.”
That means nearly 4 million U.S. youth fall into a new category of obesity risk, one that carries dangers of serious disease and early death, even beyond expected harms, according to a scientific statement published Sept. 9 by the American Heart Association.
“It appears that severe obesity is the fastest-growing subcategory of obesity in youth,” write the authors in the report published in the journal Circulation.
Worse, when children get that big, it’s difficult to help them lose weight with traditional tools of diet and exercise, or even with drugs and surgery. Continue reading