August is Kids Eat Right Month!

united stated department of agriculture logo

Volume 3, Issue 20, August 1, 2017

The Dirt - New and Notes from FNS's Office of Community Food Systems
Kids Eat Right Month

Celebrate Kids Eat Right Month with Us!

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) celebrates Kids Eat Right during the month of August. This month was created to focus on the importance of kids eating the right types of food their bodies need to grow into healthy adults. From infants to teenagers, the AND has resources and creative tools to help parents, teachers, and the community, encourage our youngest eaters to make healthy decisions. Get kid-tested and approved recipes, tips, and more for each age group!

Get involved and become a Kids Eat Right campaign member to further promote healthy eating and the prevention of childhood obesity. Kids Eat Right campaign members will have access to educational materials, reference lists, handouts, and templates free of charge, for public health projects.

Girl Eating Lettuce

OCFS Encourages Healthy, Local Food for All Child Nutrition Programs

Kids Eat Right Month is a reminder that increasing access to healthy food for all children is important for proper growth and development. Establishing positive eating and physical activity habits at a young age, promotes a healthy body weight and connects kids to their food. These kids, who will grow into adults, will be equipped with healthy habits they can pass on for generations to come.

The Farm to School program promotes local foods and strengthens community partnerships and engagement. Bring farm to school to your child's school, day care, after-school program, or even birthday party! Teach our future generation that when you buy local foods, kids win, farmers win, and communities win!

Here are 5 Ways Schools Can Boost the Local Food Economy.

Check out these factsheets to learn more about farm to school and how to integrate these activities in many settings!

Evaluating farm to school efforts is critical in helping to identify and acknowledge the benefits these activities have on students. To learn more about evaluation methods, read the story below from LiveWell Colorado.

Interested in a national farm to school evaluation? Check out the Farm to School Census to learn more about the impact it has on communities!

Analyzing District Lunch Menus with LiveWell Colorado's School Food Initiative

salad bar

In April 2013, LiveWell Colorado (LWC) partnered with the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition (GSCN), a public health nutrition research and evaluation center, to design and conduct an evaluation of LiveWell’s flagship school-based program, the School Food Initiative (SFI). The SFI works with districts across the state to replace highly processed school lunch items with scratch-cooked, fresh meals and enhanced salad bars. 

The cornerstone of the evaluation for each cohort has been the Quantitative Menu Analysis, otherwise known as the QMA. The QMA is conducted at baseline and then again at follow-up to determine how a district’s menu has shifted toward more fresh, whole ingredients after their participation in the SFI. This is accomplished by an in-depth review and analysis of each food item in the district’s menu cycle in order to determine the percentage of fresh/whole ingredients used within each component (e.g., protein, grain, produce, etc.). Each ingredient is assigned a category based on its level of processing (fresh/whole, transitional, highly processed) as indicated by recipes and product labels. This is guided by the use of an ingredient rubric, which sorts all ingredients that a district may utilize into these 3 categories. The rubric was developed by iteratively modifying an existing LWC tool by the GSCN research team in coordination with the SFI Program Director, a registered dietitian. The current rubric is now more aligned with school food and includes a comprehensive list of ingredients within these 3 levels of processing.   

Topics such as QMA development, cohort results, and longitudinal cohort results have been presented at national conferences, such as Biennial Childhood Obesity, American Evaluation Association, and American Public Health Association, as well as published in the Journal of School Health. Additionally, results from the most recent cohort were developed into an infographic, which outlines the increase in the use of fresh/whole ingredients, particularly among fresh fruits and vegetables.  As a partner in the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition’s new Farm to School Grant, we look forward to supporting the Coalition’s 14 school districts in getting more locally grown produce out of the dirt, into the cafeteria, and on to student lunch trays!

Upcoming Webinars and Conferences

Little girl eating peach

Partnering for More Successful Summers: Bringing together Summer Meals, SNAP-Ed and local farmers to better serve communities

Date: August 8th from 2:00-3:00PM EST

Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to:

  1. Identify possible partnership activities between Summer Food Service, SNAP-Ed, Farm to Summer and Farmers Markets.
  2. Describe how partnerships may be developed and leveraged for program success.
  3. Apply the strategies presented in the webinar to their partnership efforts.

Who Should Attend: SNAP-Ed providers and administrators, partner organizations at State and local levels, Child Nutrition, Farmers Markets, and Summer Food Service stakeholders, and all others interested in building and leveraging partnerships with SNAP-Ed.

Farm to Summer initiatives, such as serving at farmers’ markets or offering agriculture-focused activities, can attract children and teens to summer meal sites; however, robust programming requires thoughtful planning and strategic partnerships. While summer meals may be ending for many sponsors across the country, now is the perfect time to start thinking about Farm to Summer for 2018. During this webinar, discover how program operators are enhancing their programs through partnerships with  SNAP-educators  and farmers.

This webinar is free to attend but registration is required.  

Questions? Contact Lisa Mays,

Georgia Farm to School Summit Logo

Georgia Farm to School Summit

Date: October 5-6, 2017 in Augusta, GA

This year’s Summit welcomes farmers, teachers, early care educators and administrators, school nutrition staff, students, parents, and others eager to learn about about Georgia’s vibrant farm to school movement. Connect with schools, early care centers, local farms, and distributors to champion healthy, local meals and support farm and gardening educational opportunities!

Register now!

National Farm to School Network Logo

National Farm to School Network Farm to ECE Quarterly Webinar: State Agencies as Leaders and Partners in Growing Farm to ECE

Date: Wednesday, August 2, 3:30 – 4:30 ET

State agencies (including departments of agriculture, education, health) can be key leaders and partners in facilitating growth and institutionalization of farm to ECE at the state level. Join us to learn more about the variety of ways that state agencies across the country are leading the way in farm to ECE. Representatives from Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the South Carolina Departments of Health and Environmental Control and Social Services will share their innovative programs and strategic approaches to growing and supporting farm to ECE in their states. Register now!

Kids Eat Right with Garden to Café

Salad bar and kids eating vegeatables

Garden to Café is San Diego Unified Farm to School's favorite program!  School gardens throughout the district can be certified to serve their garden-grown produce as part of their school salad bar for the National School Lunch Program. They train dedicated teachers, volunteers, community partners, and cafeteria staff who are interested in bringing the program to their school. In partnership with the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health, they ensure the school garden meets various criteria regarding safe growing and harvesting practices. Once a school is certified, the school can begin harvesting, preparing, and serving raw garden produce in their cafeterias!  Some of our favorite produce items that school gardens have served on their school salad bars are snap peas, radishes, microgreens, cheddar cauliflower, and broccoli. Students get to plant, grow, harvest, and weigh garden produce. Their harvest is delivered to the cafeteria, washed, prepped, and served, to be eaten for lunch the following day. Garden to Café is a great way for school food service departments to support school gardens, and to ensure that lessons learned in the garden about growing healthy food extend to making healthy choices in the cafeteria!