October 19, 2012
This week has been proclaimed National School Lunch Week and in that spirit, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM), the Vermont Department of Health (VDH), and the Vermont Department of Education (VT DOE) feel it is important to highlight how the new nutrition standards have created opportunities and forums for partnerships and conversations around the state.
“We see Farm to School as the perfect tool to help implement these new standards,” said Secretary of Agriculture, Food & Markets Chuck Ross. “Farm to School connects food service with our local farms to provide a greater variety of more flavorful fruits and vegetables. When coupled with taste tests, school gardens, and farm visits the likelihood that students will actually eat the abundance of fruits and vegetables that they are seeing on their salad bars and lunch lines increases.”
The SNA-VT Child Nutrition: The Heart of Learning conference kicked off today in Stowe. The conference is a collaborative effort among the School Nutrition Association of Vermont (SNA-VT), Hunger Free Vermont (HFVT), Vermont FEED, VAAFM, VDH, and VT DOE. This annual conference creates a platform for professional development and honors the work and accomplishments of food service personnel in their schools. School managers and directors worked with VT DOE Child Nutrition staff and other schools who have certified their menus to ensure that they meet the new requirements. Conference participants will share recipes, best-practices, and menu planning to meet nutrition education goals and explore how those goals relate to the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) initiative.
Reading Elementary received the School Nutrition Advocacy Award in recognition of their shared kitchen project. Reading Elementary kitchen provides meals not only to their students but also to the 100+ students of the Albert Bridge School in Brownsville, which has never had a school meal program. Albert Bridge School recently received funding from VAAFM to implement Farm to School. HFVT developed the School Nutrition Advocacy Award with the goal of recognizing a school food service program in which one or more staff members have taken an idea and made it a reality. The project must help the school nutrition program expand student access to quality school, afterschool, and/or summer meals. Additionally, the project helps to elevate the community’s image of school meals and school food service personnel.
“I am very proud of the food service personnel in Vermont’s schools,” said Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca. “They are on the front line, listening to the kids – working through changes. Their dedication, love of children, and desire to provide delicious and nutritious meals are second to none. Ultimately these changes are good for kids, instilling healthy eating habits not just during their formative school years but for the rest of their lives.”
The Vermont Department of Health fully supports school meals changes established through the 2010 Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act. The new standards reflect a healthy balance to support students’ health and academic achievement. The changes require daily servings of fruits and vegetables, low fat or fat free milk, whole grains and, for the first time age-appropriate caloric limits on meals.
“This is a great step in the right direction to help children grow up healthy,” Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD said. “Due to the growing prevalence of obesity, 1 in 3 children born in the U.S. will develop diabetes in their lifetimes, becoming the first generation of children who have a shorter life span than their parents.”
Making a full transition in the school meals changes will take time; additional limits on sodium and a change to 100 whole grains will occur in the next school year. Schools that have implemented the changes early, and engage students in the process are finding greater acceptance. This is the case in Burlington Schools where they provide fresh, wholesome and nutritious food to over 4,000 students daily.
Source: Department of Health
Last Updated at: October 19, 2012 08:50:10