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Minneapolis School Embraces Family-Style Dining

How do you create a better lunch experience for students? It all started with a conversation between Ginger Davis Kranz, Principal of Webster Elementary School, and the Minneapolis Public Schools’ Director of Food Service, Bertrand Weber. In September 2016, I was fortunate enough to visit Webster Elementary School in Minneapolis and see for myself how their family-style dining works. I’d like to share Webster Principal Ginger Davis Kranz’s inspiring blog about her school’s innovative and thoughtful approach to the students’ mealtime experience.

By Ginger Davis Kranz, Principal of Webster Elementary School

What if school lunchtime was more than just a wait in line and a race to find a seat and eat, but instead was more like a traditional family meal – a time when friends gather to enjoy their food, engage in meaningful conversation, build relationships and gain important life skills? After reflecting on this question, Webster Elementary, a Minneapolis public school, made the decision to abandon the typical chaotic and impersonal lunchroom experience and create a family-style dining program.

US Forest Service Helps Educate Students at World's Largest Conservation Event

Approximately 180 middle and high school students joined Smokey Bear, staff and a host of other conservation-focused professionals from around the world for Student Day at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center in Honolulu.

The students were invited to learn about natural resources careers and interact with professionals during the , or IUCN, , the world’s largest and most democratic recurring conservation event in the world. The event draws thousands of participants, including heads of state, business leaders, top scientists, educators and artists.

The Annual Harvest Challenge: Student Teams Supported by Chefs Move to Schools and Farm to School

Cross-posted from the :

The annual Harvest Challenge, menu planning and cooking event for high school students, is an important example of how aspiring chefs get started and learn to create winning recipes.

This exciting contest, which is now going into its 8th year, challenges teams of high school students – including staff and chef mentors – to develop a creative, appetizing and visually appealing school lunch entrée and side dish while incorporating locally grown foods. At the same time, the entrée and side dish must comply with and meet a budget of $1 per person per serving (entrée and side dish combined). “This is a fun and challenging event for our high school students that really enables them to appreciate the hard work that goes into school food programs,” says Ashlee Gabrielson, director of the Vernon County Farm to School Program in Wisconsin.

Think Nutrition as High School Students Return to School

The start of the school year is a great time to get high school students thinking about the nutrition and physical activity choices they make. USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) and Team Nutrition have a variety of resources available to support high school educators as they guide students on their path to good health.

SuperTracker Lesson Plans for High School Students

CNPP has just released updated . This free nutrition education resource for teachers, schools, and health educators helps students grades 9-12 learn how to build a healthy diet using MyPlate and , an interactive food and physical activity tracking tool. Originally released in 2014, the lesson plans have been updated to reflect the , and two new lessons have been added.

Chefs Move to Schools! How to Put on a Junior Chef Competition

Cross-posted from the :

Student culinary competitions are becoming a fun and popular learning tool utilized by many schools throughout the country to engage students in creating healthy, appealing meals. These events encourage students to eat more nutritious foods, as well as give students a voice about foods in schools, showcase school nutrition programs and stimulate interest in local agriculture.

To simplify the planning process and assist schools that may be interested in hosting a student cooking competition, the Institute of Child Nutrition, in conjunction with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, has developed the . Customizable based on the needs of the school, the toolkit includes how-to information as well as sample rules, forms, and guidelines for planning and pulling off a culinary competition at school.

Washington Middle School Students Give Back for Third Annual Day of Service

Over the past three years, USDA has welcomed seventh-graders from Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, D.C. to participate in “Deal Gives Back,” a day of service that empowers students to serve their community. This year was no exception. Alongside local volunteers, 118 students and faculty spent a day at USDA’s People’s Garden planting, weeding, and tilling soil to better understand how community gardens can increase access to fresh, healthy food choices in communities where nutritious options aren’t easily accessible.

All work and no play? Not a chance. After a warm welcome from USDA Assistant Secretary for Administration Dr. Gregory Parham, the students checked out demonstrations from the Agricultural Research Services’ (ARS) and Labs to learn about insect classification, research, and the vital role pollinators play in growing healthy fruits and vegetables. And to wrap up the day, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Director Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy stopped by with a surprise treat – an invitation to try toasted mealworms. Yum!

Schools across America Honored for Their "One in a Melon" Farm to School Programs

Back in , we invited you to vote for the school district with your favorite farm to school program – one with exemplary initiatives, inspiring results; one that you think is ‘one in a melon’!

Well, the results were tabulated and one district in each state has just received the “One in a Melon” award.  These districts received the most votes from parents, teachers, community stakeholders, students, and others who recognized the incredible work they’re doing through their . We were so inspired by the nominations we received that we wanted to share a few quotes of them with you, but for a full list of award winners, visit .

Congrats to the Student Diversity Program Winners, See You at the 2016 Agricultural Outlook Forum

A group of 30 university students, announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, will get a head start to a career in agriculture as winners of USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program.  Twenty university juniors and seniors were chosen based their essays on “Agriculture as a Career.”  Additionally, 10 graduate students were chosen in response to “The Greatest Challenge Facing Agriculture over the Next Five Years.”

No Books Required for Back-to-School Night at USDA Farmers Market on Friday, September 18

It’s “Back-to-School Night” at the USDA Farmers Market on Friday, September 18, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., in Washington, D.C., near the National Mall.  This month’s educational exhibitors and vendors will appeal to students of any age.  Market visitors can learn more about healthy eating, reducing food waste or take a trip down memory lane and eat a snack or meal off a planet-friendly disposable lunch tray!

Members of will be at the market to explain how to eat healthy in and out of school. Executive Chef Adam Tanner, from the Mandarin Oriental Washington, DC, will show you how to cook delicious and nutritious snacks.

Student Climate and Conservation Congress: Bright Young Minds

This year, for the first time, the Forest Service partnered with the and their principle partner the (FWS) in support of the Student Climate and Conservation Congress (Sc3).  Held June 21-27 on the beautiful campus of the FWS’s in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Sc3 brought together more than 100 creative, innovative and dedicated high school students from across the country.  While there were adults present if needed, Sc3 was a youth driven congress.  Their big quest “To change everything, we need everybody.  How will you engage others in developing a brighter and more just global community?”

For the Forest Service the Sc3 was a great opportunity to look through the eyes of youth as they prepare for their generation’s leadership role in addressing the challenges of a changing climate.  As shared by Dr. Douglas Boyce, , “I was particularly impressed with the students’ depth of knowledge and grasp of issues surrounding climate change.  Dealing daily with the problems associated with climate change, I found hope for the future because I learned these students are engaged, passionate, and poised to help society tackle and solve the mounting number of significant and challenging climate change issues.”

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