Wednesday, October 21, 2009

HealthierUS School Challenge

The USDA has started a challenge for schools that are trying to offer a healthier environment at school. They are awarding four levels of superior performance based on the promotion of good nutrition and physical activity.
The Food and Nutrition site has information, tools and resources about success stories, grants, fact sheets, FAQs and more.
The online application is available now.

National Academy of Sciences urges better diet

Both school breakfast and lunch programs should be revamped according to the report released yesterday by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science (available now to download free). Their recommendations include:
  • Increasing the amount and variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Setting a minimum and maximum level of calories
  • Focusing more on reducing saturated fat and sodium

There is also a webcast of the report release. "The programs that nourish so many American schoolchildren need to reflect the latest child health and nutrition science given the extent to which dietary habits shape lifelong health," said committee chair Virginia A. Stallings.

An example from Washington (the other one)

A few hours ago Michelle Obama hosted a White House event to spotlight kids and nutrition. Her speech talked about what to eat and how to eat. She talked about child obesity, the USDA HealthierUS School Challenge - more about that in my next post -, getting exercise and ensuring that kids have healthier and healthier options at school. The Associated Press has some photos of Mrs. Obama participating in the fun and games and they report that she was able to do 142 swivels. Pretty impressive on all counts!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Have you heard about the FoodHub?

What's that? Their site, live November 2nd, defines it as a virtual pantry for Pacific Northwest food buyers and sellers. This is an Ecotrust project made possible in part by funding from the WK Kellogg Foundation, Bullitt Foundation, Newman's Own Foundation, USDA's Rural Business Enhancement Grant (RBEG) program, the Annenberg Foundation, Eugene Water & Electric Board, Farm Aid, Bill Healy Foundation, the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Russell Family Foundation, and the Washington State Department of Agriculture. They are holding informative sessions this month to introduce the new system and get feedback from everyone. Here are some of the questions they anticipate being able to answer in these sessions:
  • How is FoodHub different from or similar to other resources such as the Puget Sound Food Network, FarmsReach, MarketMaker, or EProduceSales? Where are the synergies between and among these various tools and you?
  • Who is the intended audience for FoodHub? What problem was it created to solve? What is its geographic scope? Who are the partners and funders behind FoodHub?
  • Who is Ecotrust? Didn’t they used to produce a Guide to Local and Seasonal Products; whatever happened to that?
  • How will FoodHub help me serve my constituents? What is its larger vision/mission?
    What role can I play in influencing FoodHub’s features and services so that it best serves me and my constituents? How will it evolve over time?

Everyone is more than welcome to come. Here are the dates and locations for the sessions:
Wednesday, October 28th
Time: 10-11:30 am
Sodo Park by Herban Feast
3200 1st Avenue South, Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98134

Wednesday, October 28th
Time: 2:30-4:00 pm
Skagit Valley Food Co-op
Community Meeting Room, 3rd Floor, Room #309
202 S. 1st St.
Mt. Vernon, WA

Thursday, October 29th
Time: 10:00-11:30 am
Grand Central Baking (Pioneer Square, business office)
214 1st Ave S
Seattle, WA

Thursday, October 29th
Time: 1:30-3:00 pm
Shorebank Pacific
2720 3rd AveSeattle, WA 98121

As space is limited at all venues, please RSVP to Lola Milholland at

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Why we need to change school food

The San Fransico Chronicle published an article last week that really underlines the problems with the state of our schools' cafeterias. It highlights the testimony of Chef Anthony Geraci before a congressional panel Thursday. He recounts his experiences as a school chef and why we need to change how we feed children at school and why we need school gardens.
The experience "forever changes the way a kid looks at food," said Geraci. He says that too many children only know fruit as a flavor, that they have not experienced fruit as an actual food. Schools don't have kitchens and cooks, childhood obesity and related diseases are soaring, and we are paying to process our school food in ways that add expense in both dollars and results. The food that is given to children at school is often over processed and unappetizing leading into this vicious cycle of bad eating habits and higher costs.