Articles in the Nutrition category

First Lady announces new Active Schools grants for school boards

First Lady Michelle Obama announced a new program to help school officials promote physical fitness in youth as part of her ongoing “Let’s Move” campaign.

The White House hosted a conference call with school board members and administrators on March 19 to introduce a new program, “Let’s Move: Active Schools,” funded by corporate sponsors, to guide local school districts to encourage physical activity. Up to 1,000 school districts will be awarded $1,000 grants to help kick-start their programs.

In addition to the grants, the program offers a free professional development program to show teachers how to integrate physical activities each day. It also gives technical assistance through calls and in-person visits, online resources such as curricula and toolkits, and communications tools. The National School Boards Association’s advocacy staff participated in on the call and noted that the program is voluntary for school boards.

“We know you are dealing with competing demands, and it feels like it is getting harder to find the time and money to keep kids active,” Obama said during the conference call. “This will give the tools and support to bring back physical activity in schools.”

Jill Wynns, a member of the San Francisco Unified Board of Education, spoke on the call about her school district’s investments in student wellness. The initiative began 10 years ago as a means to curb childhood obesity and began with a partnership with the city’s Board of Supervisors.  From there, the district pulled together a Food and Fitness Advisory Committee made up of community members and city employees who worked to pass an initiative to fund an array of programs that encouraged physical activity.

“We found that it is not enough to tell teachers to do more physical activity. They need curriculum, professional development aligned with the PE standards and integrated into their instructional calendar,” said Wynns. “These efforts represent our local, community-initiated commitment to insuring the health of our students as well as a model for coordinating the resources of the community.”

School board member Mark B. Miller of the Centennial school district in Pennsylvania asked the First Lady’s advisor, Sam Kass, how the program could help school districts overcome obstacles such as space limitation and contractual agreements with staff.

Kass suggested a school district create a small wellness team that could look for ways to implement the plan, using the Active Schools resources. One of the most important aspects of the program is to find a champion within the school district who can spearhead the program, he added.

For more information, visit the program’s website: www.letsmoveschools.org.

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|March 21st, 2013|Categories: Announcements, Nutrition, Obesity, School Boards|Tags: , , |

Education Talk Radio previews NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference

Kanisha Williams-Jones, Director of Leadership & Governance Services at the National School Boards Association (NSBA), was a guest today on Education Talk Radio providing a preview of NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference. Thousands of school board members, administrators, and other educators will be coming to San Diego to take part in the April 13-15 event.

Listen to the broadcast:

Listen to internet radio with EduTalk on Blog Talk Radio

The conference will feature more than 200 sessions on timely education topics, including federal legislation and funding, managing schools with tight budgets, the legal implications of recent court cases, new research and best practices in school governance, and the Common Core State Standards. A series of sessions will focus on school safety and security.

Expanded education technology programming will include site visits to the University of San Diego and Qualcomm’s Mobile Learning Center to explore its research laboratory on mobile learning; Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to examine the technology in science education and STEM; Encinitas Union School District to view its One-to-One Digital Learning Program; and the San Diego Zoo to learn about the cutting-edge learning tools used to teach at-risk students. U.S. Navy SEALs will show leadership and team building skills during another workshop.

The meeting also includes one of the largest K-12 educational expositions, with some 300 companies showcasing their innovative products and services for school districts.

General Session speakers include Academy Award winning speaker Geena Davis, who will be speaking about her work off-screen as founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Davis works with film and television creators to reduce gender stereotyping and increase the number of female characters in media targeted for children 11 and under. She will explain how media plays a key role in children’s development, and how her organization is making a difference.

Television star Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the world’s most engaging and passionate science advocates, will headline Sunday’s General Session. From PBS to NASA to Presidential Commissions, organizations have depended on Tyson’s down-to-earth approach to astrophysics. He has been a frequent guest on “The Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report”, R”eal Time with Bill Maher”, and “Jeopardy!”. Tyson hopes to reach “all the people who never knew how much they’d love learning about space and science.”

Monday’s General Session features acclaimed researcher and author Diane Ravitch, who has become one of the most passionate voices for public schools. Her most recent book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, makes the case that public education today is in peril and offers a clear prescription for improving public schools.

Learn more about the common core standards, new research on differentiated learning styles, and teaching “unteachable” children at the Focus On lecture series. Learn about new technologies for your classrooms as part of the Technology + Learning programs.

It’s not too late to register, visit the Annual Conference website for  more information.

Proposed USDA rules on snack foods will burden school districts

Every U.S. school district will be affected by new rules on school snacks proposed earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the National School Boards Association (NSBA).

No state currently has standards that fully comply with the Department’s proposal for “competitive foods,” which include foods sold in vending machines, school stores and a la carte lines , said NSBA’s Director of Federal Programs Lucy Gettman.

The rules are part of the 2010 Child Nutrition Act reauthorization that requires the Secretary of Agriculture to issue mandatory standards for competitive foods. The proposed rule sets requirements for calories, total fat, saturated fat, transfat, sugar and vitamin or nutrient content of all foods sold outside the school meal programs, on the school campus and at any time during the school day.

Further, school districts would be burdened by new reporting and monitoring requirements, Gettman said. Maintaining receipts, nutrition labels and product specifications for competitive food service would apply throughout the campus, not just to the school food authority.  NSBA is carefully analyzing the proposal and plans to send comments to the USDA.

NSBA has had ongoing concerns about the impact of the law, known as the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, and the ensuing regulatory standards. Restrictions on competitive foods, for one, could dramatically lower revenues used to fund athletics and extracurricular activities.

“The USDA is regulating in the dark when it comes to the impact on instruction and school revenue from competitive food sales, because there is no comprehensive data on how much revenue schools raise and how it is used,” Gettman said.

The USDA, which has been criticized for its heavy-handed approach to what traditionally has been a local issue, noted in its announcement that the proposed regulations would still allow parents to send in bagged lunches of their choosing or treats for activities such as birthday parties, holidays, and other celebrations.

The proposal also would allow schools to continue “infrequent” fundraisers and bake sales, as long as they are not conducted in the cafeteria or during regular meal times. And foods sold at after school sporting events or other activities would not be subject to the requirements.

The USDA characterizes the proposed rule as a minimum standard.  Additional state or local standards may impose more stringent requirements if they are consistent with the Department’s final rule.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 12th, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Food Service, Nutrition, Obesity, Policy Formation|Tags: , , , |

New federal nutrition rules caused a ‘buzz’

So many parents have complained that school meal portions are too meager—and that their children are hungry and tired by the end of the school day—that Congress is beginning to pay attention.

That’s one of several developments that are keeping policymakers busy more than two years after passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, said Lucy Gettman, NSBA’s director of federal programs.

Speaking at a Saturday briefing to NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) in Washington, D.C., Gettman told urban education leaders that the new federal rules on school meals that went into effect this year caused “quite a buzz.”

Although some expected the biggest complaint would center on inadequate financial support for new and costly mandates, Gettman said the most notable criticism has focused on the size of federally reimbursable school meals as mandated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Designed as a tool to combat the nation’s childhood obesity problem, the strict calorie limits on meals has prompted tens of thousands of letters and phone calls to members of Congress.

“Parents, students, and other citizens were giving their members of Congress an earful,” Gettman said, noting that one online music video mocking the meal rules has gotten more than 1 million viewers.

The protests prompted the House Committee on Education and Workforce to send a letter asking the U.S. Government Accounting Office to look into the impact of the new law and the USDA rules.

In the letter were a “pretty thorough list of questions, and I think it will really be helpful to Congress once they get a report back,” Gettman said. “It can guide Congress on future policy.”

The public outcry already has prompted the USDA to grant schools some relief in meeting federal guidelines, she added, “but the relief is only temporary” as that the rules were waived only for the rest of this school year.

Another issue still unresolved is what federal standards will exist for “competitive foods”—food sold in vending machines or at concession stands at school athletic events, Gettman said. Those rules—which USDA has yet to release in draft form—could affect the revenue that schools use to support athletic, food-service, and other programs.

School policymakers also are waiting for draft rules concerning the training and certification of food-service personnel.

USDA has indicated it’s going to do “everything in its power so that these standards won’t be costly,” Gettman said. “But the proof is in the pudding.”

Del Stover|January 27th, 2013|Categories: CUBE, FRN Conference 2013, Leadership Conference 2013, Legislative advocacy, Nutrition, Obesity, Urban Schools|Tags: , , , |

January ASBJ online now with Change Agents, Common Core backlash

The January issue of American School Board Journal is online now. This first issue of 2013 fittingly features our inaugural series on excellence in school governance: Change Agents. Each month we’ll tell the stories of reform-minded school boards that faced challenges and found solutions through strong leadership. January’s story shows how the Missoula, Mont., school board set a goal of having 100 percent of its students finish high school, and how the district responded with Graduation Matters Missoula.

The Common Core State Standards are coming — by the 2014-15 school year, more than 40 states will be introducing these math and language arts standards to their classrooms.  At least, that’s the plan.  Senior Editor Lawrence Hardy writes of the pushback the standards are receiving from both ends of the political spectrum in “The Backlash Against Common Core.”

Also in the new issue: an essay by education writer and commentator Alfie Kohn on the perils of top-down reform. And another article shows how last summer’s drought may be affecting school food service prices.

Kathleen Vail|January 3rd, 2013|Categories: 21st Century Skills, American School Board Journal, Board governance, Curriculum, Food Service, Governance, National Standards, Nutrition, School Reform, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , , , , |

Q&A with Chef Jeff Henderson

Jeff Henderson is an award-winning culinary figure known simply as Chef Jeff — although simple would hardly be the way to describe his rise to fame. Growing up poor in southern California, Henderson quickly fell in with one bad crowd after another. When he was 24, he was nabbed for drug peddling and was sent to prison for nearly a decade.

While incarcerated, Henderson worked in the prison kitchen where he found sustenance and salvation in cooking. Today, he is a New York Times best-selling author and television personality who will be speaking at NSBA’s 72nd Annual Conference in Boston in April. The self-made entrepreneur recently took time out of his busy schedule to provide some food for thought to ASBJ Senior Editor Naomi Dillon.

When did your passion for food ignite?

I was placed on pots-and-pans detail in the prison kitchen. I realized the kitchen staff, like in any restaurant, gets to eat the leftover food. I thought, “OK, maybe this is the place to be.” The opportunity came for me to learn to cook by helping the head inmate cooks, and I got very good at it. I was very fast at seasoning and organization. Six months after I worked in the kitchen full time, the head cook left and I was promoted to head inmate cook and eventually head inmate baker. I had to be creative with the ingredients — onions, garlic powder, salt, pepper, top ramen noodle seasoning packages, canned tuna, a piece of bell pepper, some squeeze cheese. Whatever it was, we’d create these dishes.

You re-entered society with gusto, becoming the first African American to be named executive  chef at Café Bellagio in Las Vegas. How did you make that transition?

I took the same drive and tenacity that I had on the streets into the corporate world. Prison makes you very disciplined, and so do the streets. That added to my ability to move quickly up the food chain in the corporate world. I was the first one in and last one out every day. I studied the best talent around me. I bought the same shoes they wore, the same chef jackets, the same eyewear, and the same books. I watched how they moved through the kitchen, how they held knives, how they seasoned, how they held a pot handle, a sauté pan, and incorporated it all into what I do.

What does food represent to you?

It means a lot of things. Early in my life, it was survival. In prison it was an opportunity for me to eat better. After prison, food became a career. It became that vehicle for my redemption. The power of food is like a metaphor; food changes life. I get e-mails and letters and blogs and tweets from people who talk about how food changed their lives.

What is the Chef Jeff Project?

It was born out of my Los Angeles business called the Posh Urban Cuisine, where we catered to Hollywood celebrities and corporate executives. I would always hire at-risk kids through Job Corps, Pro Start, and local culinary trade schools. I would take these young people into multimillion-dollar estates and catering events and teach them how to cook. Many of these kids had social challenges. They didn’t smile, they sagged their pants, and their facial expressions were intimidating. So I wound up teaching these kids the importance of self-presentation. Then the Food Network reached out to me after I was on the Oprah Winfrey show and said, “Chef Jeff we want you to do a show.”

So how are you able to break through to the kids you work with?

Most teachers don’t come from poverty so they don’t understand the mindset. They don’t understand the trauma that these kids have been through. Until you understand that, you can’t connect. You can’t get them to buy in to the idea that education pays off. You get them to buy in by building up their self-esteem. You have to help them discover their gift and figure out what they want to do [in life] and cultivate that. In my travels, I meet kids who have never been on an airplane, never saw the ocean, never been to a white-tablecloth restaurant, never been to a museum, never been told that they were smart, never been told that they have potential. These kids were born in poverty to drug-addicted parents, abusive single parents, and broken family homes. It’s them against the world and the odds are stacked against them. So you’ve got to let them taste it, feel it, and see it, so when they go back to that environment that little voice talks to them and says, “You know what, there really is an ocean, there really is a New York, there really are opportunities.”

Naomi Dillon|February 24th, 2012|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2012, NSBA Publications, Nutrition, Student Engagement, Urban Schools, Wellness|Tags: , |

USDA school nutrition regs add major costs for food services

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) final rules for nutrition standards for the school lunch and breakfast programs still fail to provide adequate funding for schools, NSBA says.

The USDA estimates that the new rules will cost schools an additional $3.2 billion to implement, a more than 50 percent decrease from its initial $6.7 billion estimate. However, NSBA is concerned that the new estimate is based on faulty accounting.

“Much of the reduction is derived by delaying implementation of some of the costliest standards, including changes to the School Breakfast Program, whole grain requirements, and sodium targets,” said NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant in a written statement.  “Even so, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that less than half of the $3.2 billion cost will be covered by the performance-based reimbursement rate increase of 6 cents per lunch.”

The new standards, part of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, require schools to offer more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lower-fat meat and protein options and restrict foods that are high in sodium, fat, or sugar.

NSBA supports community-led moves to bring more nutritious and locally grown foods to school cafeterias and has highlighted many examples of schools that have done so through its conferences, publications, and awards programs.

The increased costs from a federal mandate will only add to schools’ and communities’ budget problems, though, Bryant added.

“By splitting the difference, a 35-cent increase per lunch for a family with two children adds up to $125.00 in the first year alone,” she said, citing USDA estimates that show 1.6 million school-age children come from households with incomes just higher than the above eligibility for free or reduced-price meals, which is a household income of 185 to 200 percent of poverty level or $43,500 to $44,700 for a family of four.  “The few dollars a week more a family would have to pay could price those meals out of reach,” Bryant said.

The USDA reported that it received an “unprecedented” 132,000 public comments on the proposed standards. First Lady Michelle Obama promoted the changes as part of her “Let’s Move!” campaign to help students and families eat healthier meals and exercise.

NSBA has continuously advocated for more funding to support the new requirements, noting that the additional costs come at a time when schools are being forced to lay off teachers and other staff and cut programs. Last year NSBA supported report language passed by the House as part of the agriculture appropriations bill that directed the USDA to propose new rules that do not create unfunded mandates for school districts.

The USDA also plans to issue new rules for foods sold in vending machines, bake sales, and other venues.

“Not only are these activities outside the legitimate scope of federal government regulation, they provide much needed funds for school athletics, field trips and other programs that are in jeopardy given the current budget crisis for schools,” said Bryant.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 31st, 2012|Categories: Food Service, Nutrition, Obesity|

Senate amendment would block costly rules on school meals

The U.S. Senate has approved an amendment to an agriculture appropriations bill that will protect the flexibility of school districts in selecting the vegetables served in school lunch and breakfast programs.

NSBA supported the amendment, co-authored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), that blocks the use of 2012 funding to implement “highly prescriptive” requirements on the use of vegetables in school meals, said Lucy Gettman, NSBA’s director of federal programs.

The proposed rules would have limited the servings of some starchy vegetables, such as white potatoes, lima beans, and corn, to one cup per student per week, and banned these vegetables from school breakfasts.

The rules also threatened to increase school district costs for providing meals, and in a letter supporting the Collins-Udall amendment, NSBA expressed concern to senators about the budget impact to local school districts.

“The financial and operational impact on local school districts could be immense at a time when they already are slashing their budgets in response to eroding resources,” NSBA stated. “The proposed rule could therefore force districts to curtail more education programming and take more teachers out of the classroom to pay for it. School district flexibility and authority are needed to assure that meal options are healthy, nutritious, responsive to the needs and preferences of local communities, and are cost-effective.”

NSBA’s letter of support was entered in to the Congressional Record after Sen. Collins mentioned it on the Senate floor, Gettman said.

“NSBA strongly supported the efforts of Sens. Collins, Udall, and others to ensure that school districts retain the flexibility to provide nutritious meals to students,” she said, adding that NSBA would continue to monitor the legislation as it works its way through the Senate. 

Del Stover|October 21st, 2011|Categories: Educational Legislation, Legislative advocacy, Nutrition, School Boards|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA releases family engagement resource

A new document by the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) School Health Programs, which was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), aims to cultivate the relationship between schools and families, with an eye toward nurturing healthy students and a healthy school environment.

Families as Partners: Fostering Family Engagement for Healthy and Successful Students, provides an overview of this critical component of student and school success and offers guidance, strategies, and resources for developing and implementing effective family engagement policies and practices.

According to the document, family engagement in schools has been shown to reduce risky behaviors and improve academic achievement and attitudes about school among students.

The publication also suggests that building connections around school and children’s health issues not only serves as a less intimidating entry point for families, but can reap multiple benefits.

“Family engagement is important to a positive school climate, as well as, to the development of promising school health policies and practices that benefit all students and prepare them for a healthy and successful future,” said Anne L. Bryant, NSBA’s executive director.

It should be noted that families come in all shapes and sizes, and the use of the word family is an all-inclusive generic term. Regardless of their makeup, according to the document, “families and school staff share the responsibility to counter unhealthy influences and help students lead healthy, productive lives.”

And coordinated school health—an eight-step model that the CDC developed— is a sensible way to address risky behaviors among students. Not surprisingly, one of the key components in the CDC coordinated school health framework is family involvement.

Families as Partners highlights a handful of well-regarded strategies to bolster family involvement, including the model developed by noted Johns Hopkins University sociology professor Joyce L. Epstein.

Among the steps a district should take is a review of their own policies on family involvement. Chances are districts can build on their existing efforts to address family engagement in health, nutrition, and safety.

In tandem with an internal review, is an external strategy to bring families into the fold, whether it’s through community meetings, surveys, standing committees, or other opportunities where two-way dialogue can occur.

Besides the Families as Partners document, more smart tips and best practices, including a fact sheet on health and learning, sample family engagement policies, and sample surveys to engage families, can be found on the new family engagement webpage on NSBA’s website.

 

 

Naomi Dillon|September 28th, 2011|Categories: Nutrition, School Climate, Student Achievement, Wellness|Tags: , |

Urban board members meet around advocacy issues

Members of the Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) gathered in Memphis this week to hone their skills in advocating for urban schools and their students.

CUBE’s annual issues seminar included workshops on National Common Core Standards, sessions on best practices in the Memphis and Nashville school districts, and updates on the current top federal advocacy issues.

“We are working well with NSBA and our state associate to put the faces of our children in the forefront,” said Sandra Jensen, CUBE chair and president of the board of the Omaha Public Schools.

NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant outlined the successes that the organization has had recently with Congress and with getting regulatory relief from No Child Left Behind for school districts. “We’ve had victories, and victories feel good in this environment,” she said.

One of those victories was getting language added to the Child Nutrition Act, passed in the FY 2012 agriculture appropriations bill in June. NSBA warned that some of the demands of the act could cost school districts millions of dollars. “We were at the table advocating reasonableness,” Bryant said.

Another victory: NSBA, along with the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), asked Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for relief for school districts facing sanctions under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Duncan has indicated that he would consider this.

Both organizations had solicited support for a petition to remove the regulatory and reporting requirements of NCLB. “That’s the kind of power you have,” Bryant told attendees. “You are so articulate. You speak passionately about kids.”

Reginald Felton, NSBA’s director of Federal Relations, Advocacy, and Issues Management, gave attendees an overview of the current federal advocacy picture in Washington, D.C.

“Most of that stimulus money is gone,” said Felton. “It was important to get it, but we are approaching a funding cliff – you can’t sustain it.”

Congress’ intent is to cut money, and the education community will be affected. NSBA is concerned about the shift from formula-based funding to competitive grants, said Felton.

Felton also referenced the Child Nutrition Bill, saying that NSBA’s position was based on whether it was appropriate for federal government to create unfunded mandates instead of leaving those decisions to state and local officials. “It’s not about us wanting our kids to be healthy,” he said.

Attendees also heard about what they can and cannot do with student assignment plans after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Seattle and Louisville, Ky., decisions in 2007.

NSBA General Counsel Francisco Negron and Jay Worona, general counsel of the New York State School Boards Association, told CUBE members about the implications for other districts of the two cases.

Racial balancing is “no longer permissible,” said Negron. “To the extent that you want to do student assignment, the only legally permissible reason is academic.”

Just using student assignment to avoid racial isolation will no longer stand up in the Supreme Court, said Worona.

“We are living in a post integration society,” said Negron. “Get rid of those words. You shouldn’t even think in those terms.”

For more information about CUBE, go to www.nsba.org/cubeAmerican School Board Journal will focus on how school board members can become better advocates in its September issue at www.asbj.com.

Kathleen Vail|June 25th, 2011|Categories: Educational Legislation, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Nutrition, School Law, Urban Schools|
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