USDA is Expanding Healthy Food Aid to Women, Infants, Children



About 9 million low-income women and young children receive federal food assistance under the U.S. government's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, and Latino mothers and their kids make-up over 40% of participants. Soon these families will have greater access to fruits, vegetables, and whole grains under changes to the program unveiled on February 28, 2014. In its final form, the overhaul will boost by 30%, or $2 per month, the allowance for each child's fruit and vegetable purchases, and permit fresh produce in lieu of jarred infant food for babies, if their parents prefer. The update also expands whole grain options available to recipients and allows yogurt as a partial milk substitute, adding to the soy-based ...

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Smart Snacks Product Calculator



The Alliance for a Healthier Generation has launched it's Smart Snacks Product Calculator. This tool makes it easy for individuals or schools to evaluate products based on the new USDA Smart Snacks in School Guidelines. The user can simply enter the product information, answer a few questions, and the calculator will determine whether your snack, side or entrée item meets the new USDA Smart Snacks in School Guidelines. Results from this calculator have been approved and determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to be an accurate product assessment for it's compliance with the federal requirements for Smart Snacks in School. In addition to the calculator, the Alliance Product Navigator now features snack, side, entrée and beverage products that meet the USDA ...

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Healthy Ideas for Food in Classroom on Valentine’s Day



School Bites, a blog about bringing more healthy food into the school system, provides tips on having less junk food in the classroom on Valentines Day. Together the two healthy Valentine's Day posts include 27 unique ideas of how to incorporate healthier foods like fruits, vegetables, smoothies, and water into the classroom parties. There are also suggestions for active games to play during the day, like Musical Hearts or Valentine's Hopscotch. These activites can get kids moving, having fun, and thinking less about the sugary snacks that traditionally provided during classroom parties. These ideas are complied from her network of school-health blogs and ideas from other concerned parents. See the 2014 guide 12 Naturally Sweet Ideas for a Healthy School Valentine’s Day ...

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Howard County Group Launches New Better Beverage Campaign



  Supported by the Horizon Foundation, Howard County Unsweetened has tools, resources, news, and more on how parents and their kids can swap sugary drinks for healthier alternatives. Their latest video campaign suggests that big soda companies should focus on promoting healthier beverages, like water, and not high-sugar drinks. The campaign challenges folks to rethink what marketing beverages to children should look like. Check out their latest video here! Howard County Unsweetened hosted a contest inviting high-schoolers to submit short documentaries about the problem of sugary drink consumption, and creative new ways to deal with it. They announced the winner in February 2014---watch the ...

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Healthier Lunches at Sunset High



If you could wave a magic wand, what would you do to fix school lunches? If money was no option, what would you do to bring healthier foods into schools? These are the kinds of questions students at Sunset High School in Del Norte County, California asked while dreaming-up big solutions to their less-than-great school food. Fed up with the pre-packaged lunches and unhealthy options, the youth organized and advocated for change, building partnerships and leadership skills—using the PICO community organizing model—that will last a lifetime. Del Norte County and Adjacent Tribal Lands (DNATL) is one of the 14 communities selected to participate in the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) program. Funded by The California Endowment, BHC is a ten-year, comprehensive community initiative ...

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Get Authorized to be a Farmers’ Market SNAP Vendor with MarketLink


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Farmers' Markets are a great way to bring fresh, local produce into a community. To make sure this healthy fare is available to all, many markets purchase machines that allow them to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formally known as food stamps) benefits. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently contracted with the National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (NAFMNP) to create MarketLink, a new way for farmers’ markets and direct-marketing farmers to get authorized as SNAP vendors and get the equipment they need to accept SNAP benefits. Click here to access MarketLink and to get authorized to be a SNAP vendor.  Before MarketLink, each new SNAP vendor had to search out an equipment provider, select a wireless plan, ...

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School, Students Use Fish to Grow Fresh Veggies for Community



Latino neighborhoods tend to have less access to fresh fruits and veggies. In Santa Ana, Calif., a high school that serves at-risk youth, offers a first-period gardening class. It started as a campus beautification project but ended in students growing healthy, nutritious food for their community in a unique, sustainable way using fish, called “aquaponics.” The problem of 'spicy hot Cheetos' The Academy, created by California philanthropists Susan Samueli and Sandi Jackson, is a unique high school for underserved teens in Santa Ana, Calif. The school opened in 2013 to maximize individual student attention and offers work-based and project-based learning, college readiness, and new technology. More than 80% of its students are Latino. When it comes to students diets, ...

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Catawba County, NC Works Towards Better Food Access for All



Catawba county is a small county in central North Carolina where Latinos are the largest minority group. Many folks living in the county don't have access to regular nutritious food. One college student has inspired her community to take action to get better food into areas that need it. Kayla Earley, a junior at Lenoir-Rhyne University, is developing a research project to learn more about the specific needs of visitors to Catawba County soup kitchens, with the goal of using her research reduce food insecurity in Catawba County 10 percent by 2016. Earley's work has called attention to food access issues in Catawa County. Catawba County Health Partners, a nonprofit that fosters coalitions to improve health countywide, has used USDA data to identify six “food deserts” in ...

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Parents Ditch Cookie-Dough for 5K Fundraisers


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Year after year when it came time for the annual fundraiser at Withers Elementary School in Dallas, students were forced to sell unhealthy products like cookie dough. When Becky Heller became PTA president, she and other parents decided that it was time to stop unhealthy fundraisers. Heller and a team of motivated parents took a “giant leap of faith” and organized a 5K in lieu of the unhealthy products—and not only did they meet their fundraising goal, they far exceeded it. Inactivity a growing problem Becky Heller, a parent with children at Withers Elementary—a dual-language learning school with an 82.6% Latino student population located in northwest Dallas—knew that childhood obesity and physical inactivity was a growing problem. After learning about the first ...

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