SNA’s Annual National Conference: Growing Farm to School Programs

It seems like the smoke from the 4th of July fireworks has just cleared, yet it is already time to think about kids heading back to school. If this year’s School Nutrition Association’s Annual (SNA) Conference is any indication, one thing we can expect in schools this year is for the USDA Farm to School movement to continue to grow and for an increasing number of creative school culinary experiences, often influenced by chefs.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, in his address to attendees shared that “locally grown food” can expand the range of wholesome food for students in school. The USDA’s Farm-to-School initiative, encourages local foods in national school lunch and breakfast programs and promotes hands-on experiences that help teach students where their food comes from and how foods are grown. More than 42,500 schools currently participate in the program, giving over 23.6 million students fresh products in school cafeterias and an education on where and how farm fresh food is grown. In addition, more than 7,000 schools have a garden onsite, giving students opportunities to cultivate and grow their own food.

School nutrition directors have elevated the culinary efforts in their schools, with creative culinary experiences that are critical to help SNA achieve its mission – to ensure the health, vitality and nourishment of young people across the country. In addition, chefs have been hired by districts of all sizes to add creativity to menus and enhance nutrition by introducing students to healthier options, exposing them to new and international flavors and developing menu items from produce grown in schools or community gardens.

Last July, Dannon spearheaded a program that brought five independent school district chefs together for a recipe development session utilizing Greek yogurt. In addition, the Culinary Institute of America’s Healthy Kids Collaborative is dedicated to exploring culinary solutions to increase the availability and acceptance of healthy foods in schools, for example using yogurt to modify a cheese sauce. Also, in the Healthy Schools Campaign’s most recent “Cooking up Change” competition – a challenge that asks high school students across the nation to create healthy, appealing schools meals – the second place national finalist included yogurt as part of their creative recipe.

School nutrition professionals are committed to advancing the quality of school meals, and the meals children receive in school helps give them energy for academics and beyond. Working together, businesses can champion the cause by innovating and bringing nutritious products to market, that combined with the farm to school partnerships being implemented across the country, help support the innovation of school nutrition professionals and increase healthier options for kids.

Carolyn Gooch
Customer Business Manager K12
Danone Wave

2017 American Association of Diabetes Educators Meeting To Be Held August 4-7

The 2017 American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) meeting is fast approaching. From Friday, August 4, through Monday, August 7, over 3,500 nurses, dietitians, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals will gather in Indianapolis for the AADE17. Keynote speakers, including David Katz, MD, current president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, and Chris Bergstrom, digital health lead at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), who will each bring a global perspective to critical issues and new models in diabetes care. Those interested can find a full schedule and additional information here.