USDA awards contract to Chobani Greek yogurt for school lunch test

July 26, 2013, The Post-Standard

By Mark Weiner

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded a contract to Chobani of Chenango County, N.Y., to supply four states with its Greek yogurt for a school lunch pilot program, according to members of New York’s congressional delegation.

Earlier this month, the USDA gave its permission for New York, Arizona, Idaho, and Tennessee to test Greek yogurt as a meat alternative in subsidized school lunches this school year. On July 29, Chobani was selected as the winning bidder to supply the yogurt. Continue reading

Webinar about new USDA school nutrition standards

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently finalized national school nutrition standards for vending, a la carte, school stores, and other foods sold outside the school meal programs. The National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity is hosting a webinar on Wednesday, July 24, 2013, from 2-3 p.m. EDT, to learn more about the new “Smart Snacks in School” interim final rule, discuss next steps towards implementation, and hear from a school district that is already providing healthy choices for students. Continue reading

USDA’s new nutrition standards mean healthier food options in school vending machines and snack bars

June 27, 2013, USDA Office of Communications

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on June 27 that under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards, America’s students will be offered healthier food options during the school day.

“Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Parents and schools work hard to give our youngsters the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, and providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines, and snack bars will support their great efforts.”

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires USDA to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools — beyond the federally-supported meals programs. The “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards…reflect USDA’s thoughtful consideration and response to the nearly 250,000 comments received on the proposal earlier this year. Continue reading

New, free USDA education materials show children how to make healthful food choices

June 25, 2013, USDA Blog

Research shows that students with healthful eating patterns tend to do better in school, and it’s important that children begin learning about food and nutrition when they’re young. In support of that goal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) recently released three, free sets of curriculum educators can use to empower children to make healthful food choices and develop an awareness of how fruits and vegetables are grown.

The Great Garden Detective Adventure” curriculum forthird and fourth grades includes 11 lessons, bulletin board materials, veggie dice, fruit and vegetable flash cards, and 10 issues of Garden Detective News for parents/caregivers. Kids will discover what fruits and vegetables are sweetest, crunchiest, and juiciest through investigations and fun experiences connecting the school garden to the classroom, school cafeteria, and home. Continue reading

New report highlights effects of USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in schools

A March 2013 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service’s Office of Research and Analysis explores new evaluation results of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP).

FFVP aims to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among students in the most economically challenged U.S. elementary schools by providing fresh fruits and vegetable to students outside of regular school meals. Continue reading

Strict school lunch standards tied to healthy weight

April 8, 2013, Reuters

By Andrew M. Seaman

Strict school lunch standards that are similar to new regulations from the U.S. government may be tied to healthier body weights among students, according to a new study.

“I think it’s evidence that healthier school lunches have a positive effect but it’s preliminary evidence. It’s far from definitive,” said Anne Barnhill, who studies food policy at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia but was not involved with the new research.

The new findings, published in JAMA Pediatrics on April 8, bode well for the standards introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in January 2012 that — among other moves — set maximums for calories offered during lunch and mandate that only skim or reduced-fat milk are offered to students. Continue reading

USDA announces new funding opportunity for childhood obesity prevention research

On Feb. 8, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it would be funding up to $5 million in new grants for childhood obesity prevention research.

The grants are funded through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which funds competitive grants for fundamental and applied research, education, and extension to address food and agricultural sciences. These new awards fall under the AFRI Childhood Obesity Prevention Area: a program designed to achieve the long-term outcomes of reducing the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents aged 2-19. Continue reading

New federal rules aim to make school snacks more healthful, limit junk food sales on campus

Feb. 02, 2013, The Washington Post

Goodbye candy bars and sugary cookies. Hello baked chips and diet sodas.

The government for the first time is proposing broad new standards to make sure all foods sold in schools are more healthful, a change that would ban the sale of almost all candy, high-calorie sports drinks, and greasy foods on campus.

Under new rules the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed Feb. 2, school vending machines would start selling water, lower-calorie sports drinks, diet sodas, and baked chips instead. Lunchrooms that now sell fatty “a la carte” items like mozzarella sticks and nachos would have to switch to healthier pizzas, low-fat hamburgers, fruit cups, and yogurt. Continue reading

USDA to allow more meat, grains in school lunches

Dec 8, 2012, Yahoo News

By Mary Clare Jalonick

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responding to criticism over new school lunch rules by allowing more grains and meat in kids’ meals.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told members of Congress in a letter on Dec. 7 that the department will do away with daily and weekly limits of meats and grains. Several lawmakers wrote the department after the new rules went into effect in September saying kids aren’t getting enough to eat. Continue reading

USDA awards first grants to increase local foods in eligible schools

Nov. 14, 2012, USDA Office of Communications

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced more than $4.5 million in grants for 68 projects, spanning 37 states and the District of Columbia, to connect school cafeterias with local agricultural producers.

“When schools buy food from nearby producers, their purchasing power helps create local jobs and economic benefits, particularly in rural agricultural communities,” Merrigan said. “Evidence also suggests that when kids understand more about where food comes from and how it is produced, they are more likely to make healthy eating choices.” Continue reading