Daniel Blackwood has witnessed a couple of big changes since he started working as a delivery driver for Gold Star Foods, the food distributor for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), three years ago. For one, the quality of the cafeteria food is better. Read more
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Imagine a federally funded program that could increase kids’ acceptance of fruits and vegetables, spur them to make healthier choices in the cafeteria, and even lower their body-mass index (BMI) scores, all for a mere $50 to $75 per child. It may sound too good to be true, but for over a decade, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) has been doing just that, simply by providing low-income elementary school kids with fresh fruits and vegetables as their mid-day snack.
Now, actions in Congress could undermine the program’s core purpose, angering both child health advocates and the fresh produce industry. Read more
After what appeared to be a welcome truce in the multi-year battle over school meals, we may need to brace ourselves for a new round of fighting.
Here’s the background. Congress reviews and reauthorizes federal child nutrition programs every five years, and the 2010 Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) made headlines for ushering in significant changes to those programs. Among many other provisions, it set new, greatly-improved nutritional standards for school meals, created meaningful curbs on school junk food sales, and made access to school meals easier for economically distressed kids. Read more
Scale is of the utmost importance in the tech world. If your idea is good enough, the theory goes, it should be something just about everyone can use. You can charge each person pennies, but eventually those pennies add up to real dollars.
Kimbal Musk, brother of billionaire and business magnate Elon Musk, is applying that principle to the food world. With his sustainable, locally sourced restaurant chain, the Kitchen, and his nonprofit, the Kitchen Community, Musk is making inroads into both local food systems and food education which he hopes can easily be replicated throughout the country and creates a new generation of farmers in the process.
Around the country, schools have been working to serve more nutritious meals, with less highly processed food and more fresh fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, many of those schools are also stuck with outdated kitchens—the kind best suited to opening cans and reheating frozen chicken nuggets.
But unlike the recent controversy over federal school food nutritional standards, which attracted significant media attention and a lot of highly-charged partisan debate, school kitchen equipment is often an afterthought — even though it’s just as vital. Read more
Over the last two years, I’ve kept you updated on Civil Eats regarding a brewing controversy over school food nutrition standards. That battle now seems likely to end in a relative victory for children’s health.
First, the bad news: Native American children face approximately twice the levels of food insecurity, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes relative to all children in the United States.
The good news is that many communities are working to shift these statistics using traditional food, agriculture, and education. As Alena Paisano, a member of the Laguna Pueblo community who works with Farm to Table New Mexico, puts it: “These lessons go back hundreds of thousands of years. This is in harmony with our creation stories.” Read more
Getting high school students to embrace healthy eating is an age-old battle. And when it comes to lunch, many eschew their school cafeteria in favor of eating off-campus, where healthy choices don’t always abound.
Now school districts are starting to lure their students into eating better—by getting their own food trucks up and running on campus. Read more
When my kids’ Houston school district instituted a free in-class breakfast program five years ago, it did so for all the right reasons. Over 80 percent of the students were coming from economically disadvantaged homes, and the district understood that hungry children simply can’t learn effectively. And while Houston had long offered free breakfast in the cafeteria before the first school bell, a variety of obstacles—parents’ work schedules, late school buses, even feelings of shame and stigma—had kept a significant number of hungry kids away. Read more
It’s 9:30 on a Wednesday morning in a third grade classroom at Hannah Elementary School in Beverly, Massachusetts, and Leilani Mroczkowski, Education Coordinator of Green City Growers, is pretending to be a radish. She’s squatting on the ground, holding her knees, with her long black dreads hanging down toward her dirt-caked work boots. Behind Mroczkowski, her coworker Hadas Yanay is standing on her tiptoes, with her arms stretched toward the ceiling. Read more