Salud America! Urges USDA to Keep School Nutrition Strong

Latina girl drinsk white milk at school lunch or breakfast

More than 700 Salud America! members and thousands of other people and groups across the nation submitted formal public comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to oppose its proposal to weaken school nutrition standards! Way to go, Salud America! family! These comments urge the USDA to reconsider its proposal, announced Nov. 29, 2017, to allow schools to serve of refined grains over whole grains, flavored milk, and higher levels of salt in meals. The USDA has not announced any action since the end of the public comment period on Jan. 29, 2018. Still, there now is hope for the many Latino kids who depend on school lunch for a healthy meal, thanks to members of the Salud America! network and others who took action! The Salud America! Response The USDA proposal ...

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Sports Advocate Opens the Gates for Families to Play at School Parks

George Block has fought for children for a long time. When Block saw disadvantaged kids not able to swim at local pools in the 1970s in San Antonio (63% Latino population), he fought for a new aquatic center that would provide free swim programs for them. When Block jogged through a low-income neighborhood and heard Mexican soccer games blaring from homes, but low youth soccer participation in the 1980s, he drove changes to enable more play. He even helped launch San Antonio Sports, a foundation that builds new sports facilities and spurs school facilities to open publicly. So…what did Block and his team do in 2016 when he saw many San Antonio families not using these facilities to capacity? He stepped up again and created a literal “gateway” to promote family use of ...

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20 State Profiles on Drinking Water Access and Quality in Schools & Child Care Centers

Access to free drinking water is not a given in schools and child care centers, although it is a key strategy to build lifelong healthy habits in children. Safe and appealing drinking water is particularly important to increase water consumption among Latino kids, who face more obstacles to being healthy, thus face higher rates of obesity and chronic disease. At the state policy level, drinking water availability in child care centers is governed by child care center licensing regulations, and drinking water availability in public schools is primarily governed by school nutrition policies, state plumbing codes, and school facilities standards. A recent study looked at state-wide policies in 20 states for drinking water quality and access in public schools and licensed child-care ...

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The Ginormous Benefits of ‘Integrated Student Support’ for Latino Kids

early care preschool program with diverse kids

Many U.S. Latino families lack of access to quality education, making it harder for Latino kids to achieve academically, socially, and physically. Fortunately, schools can make a big change to support Latino kids and families. By creating integrated student support initiatives, schools can better serve both their students and their communities, according to a new report, Making the Grade: A Progress Report and Next Steps for Integrated Student Supports from the nonprofit Child Trends. What are Integrated Student Supports? Integrated student support initiatives add specific services—academic support, housing assistance, food supplies, medical care, mental health services, etc.—in schools to help kids and families ensure their overall health and academic success. This effort ...

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Ex-Coach Creates Trauma-Informed Program to Reduce Absenteeism in San Antonio

Latino health emotional trauma

John Hernandez coached football in three disadvantaged school districts in Texas. When a player missed practice, Hernandez took it on himself to visit their home. He knew many players faced poverty and other home problems. He would check in on them and offer rides, so the players wouldn’t miss practices and games. Today, Hernandez directs student services at East Central Independent School District in San Antonio. He continues to see students facing poverty and trauma, resulting in missed school, which has disciplinary and even criminal consequences. However, his district didn’t have a program to identify, support, or counsel these students. Hernandez took it on himself to start one. The Problem of Chronic Absenteeism As director of student services, Hernandez is in ...

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Tell USDA: I Want Strong School Food Nutrition Rules!

latino kids in a school food lunch line

The USDA announced an interim final rule that would weaken school food nutrition standards. The rule, effective 2018-2019, would allow schools to serve 1% and nonfat flavored and non-flavored milk, apply for an exemption to serve refined grains over whole grains, and allow schools to not reduce salt levels in meals. Health experts say this rolls back progress to improve school nutrition and children's health. What do you think? Fortunately, you have a limited time—until Jan. 29 2018—to tell USDA you want better school food for Latino and all families! Submit a Model Comment Copy one of three model public comments developed by our Salud America! research team, then hit the submit button to paste it to USDA's website... MODEL COMMENT: GENERAL For the health of Latino and ...

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New Mexico Schools Give Sleepy Students a High-Tech Nap

Nap clubs. Quiet rooms. Wellness centers with cozy couches and tea. Schools are trying new ways to give rest to sleepy students, including Latinos who are more sleep-deprived than their peers. That includes high-tech "nap pods" for students in two high schools in Las Cruces (59.6% Latino) and two in Sunland Park (95.2% Latino), N.M. Students sit in the pods, available in the nurse's office, under a sensory-reduction dome that plays relaxing music and soothing lights for 20 minutes before gently vibrating to wake the students. "[It is] great for kids who weren’t getting enough sleep at night—which teenagers don’t, for a variety of reasons," Sandy Peugh, health services director for the Las Cruces school district, told Las Cruces Sun-News. "They were coming to school ...

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Better Drink? Water vs. Milk in School Lunches

water bottle filling school latino girl

Many American kids eat two out of three meals at school. Schools must offer healthy food and drinks, especially for Latino students who are more likely than their peers to face an unhealthy weight, unhealthy neighborhood food options, and unhealthy early development. That's why schools should offer plain water with meals—not milk. So says a new study by University of Illinois researcher Ruopeng An, which encouraged children to drink plain water with their school lunches. This simple switch from milk to water at school could prevent more than a half-million kids from becoming overweight or obese, and trim the costs of obesity by more than $13 billion, An's study suggests. "The nutrition profile doesn't change much when people increase their plain-water intake, but we ...

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Outdoor Learning Environments Soon Available in TX

Texas (39.1% Latino population) is launching five Outdoor Learning Environment demonstration sites across the state, three of which are at early childcare centers. This is great news for many Latino students across the state. Currently, children today can spend 8-10 hours a day in childcare. However, like many Latino-majority schools, childcare facilities offer less time for kids to play and be active. As early as age four, Latino children face gaps in academic performance and disparities in obesity. Latino kids need safe places to play and be active to reduce obesity and boost academic achievement. Naturalize Outdoor Playgrounds Play – particularly play in nature – is critical for healthy child development. Nature supports creative problem solving, enhances cognitive ...

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