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Tag ‘ school nutrition ’

USDA Announces Nutrition Standards for Snack Foods and Beverages Sold in Schools

Originally shared by FRACToday the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its nutrition standards for all foods sold in school outside of the federal school lunch and breakfast programs, including cafeteria “a la carte” items, vending machines, and other snack foods, and beverages. These new standards are an important step to remedy nutritional shortfalls in our nation’s children’s diets and to help address the obesity crisis.

These new nutrition standards, consistent with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, will promote the health of all school children throughout America. “Low-income children will especially benefit from these strong standards.” said FRAC President, Jim Weill. “When peer pressure and stigma drive low-income students to purchase less healthy  appealing competitive foods, instead of eating healthy school meals, they lose out nutritionally in a much bigger way than their more affluent peers, and their families lose financially,” said Weill.

The new regulations also implement the new requirement that schools make free drinking water available to children during meal times. “We were pleased to see improvements to the original proposed rules for water, including the extension of the requirement to offer free potable water to breakfast,” said Weill.

Moving forward with nutrition standards for all food sold in school and the provision of free drinking water for all students is an important step in the much-needed comprehensive overhaul of the school nutrition environment.

Taking Schools to the Next Level: School Pantries Feed the Minds of Tomorrow

Fall is generally a time of great excitement for school-age kids; it means a new year with a new teacher, new friends, and new beginnings.  Schools serve as so much more than a place where a child learns math or geography, but as a center and safe gathering place for the community surrounding it.  For the 1 out of 4 children who struggle with hunger every day, it can also serve as a place where you can they can count on receiving the food they need to learn and thrive.  The Food Bank has fostered partnerships with schools over the past five years, creating the Farm 2 Kids program that provides five pounds of fresh produce to over 9,000 children at 80 sites each week.  To take these partnerships even further, the Food Bank created a School Pantry program that provides shelf-stable food to high school students in need.

The School Pantries are located on school grounds and run by a school staff member.  This way food can be given out discreetly to avoid any embarrassment that many students already experience during high school years.  The office manager of one high school realized a girl at school was not eating anything except for the free lunch she received at school.  When she spoke with this girl, the student explained that her dad has diabetes and they spend all of their money on buying him special foods.  Sometimes there is just not enough for her brothers and sisters.  She is now able to pick out the foods her family can eat like brown rice, canned vegetables without salt and low-sugar cereals.  This represents a need that the Food Bank would not be able to identify on their own.  Through these strategic partnerships the Food Bank is able to help students of all ages in a way that makes them confident, happy and ready to learn.

The Food Bank is able to maintain programs like school pantries and Farm 2 Kids with support from a generous community. Find out how to donate on our website.

 

Fewer Summer Meals Served Across California

Over 2 million (84 percent) of the children in California who benefitted from federally funded school meals during the academic year were not served by the federal summer meal programs in 2011. The report, School’s Out…Who Ate?, authored by California Food Policy Advocates* (CFPA), ties the elimination of summer school to the loss of affordable, nutritious meals for low-income children.

CFPA’s analysis of data provided by the California Department of Education shows that participation in federal summer meal programs has decreased by over 50 percent in just under a decade. That downward trend is driven largely by a decline in meals served by summer schools.

Beyond children’s health and development, the loss of summer meals also impacts the bottom line. As reported by the Food Research and Action Center, in Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, California missed out on an estimated $34 million in federal funding due to low participation in summer nutrition programs during July of 2011.

School’s Out… Who Ate? includes an analysis of county-level data. In July 2011, 17% and 12% of the low-income children in Contra Costa and Solano counties who participated in free or reduced-price school meal programs during the academic year were served by summer meal programs. This means Contra Costa and Solano counties has the 9th and 13th highest summer meal participation rate among California’s 58 counties.

Across the state, the federal summer meal programs reach fewer children each year and many families continue to struggle in this tough economy. Policymakers at all levels should take action to mend the widening summer nutrition gap faced by millions of low-income children in California.

*California Food Policy Advocates is a statewide policy and advocacy organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of low-income Californians by increasing their access to nutritious, affordable food.