Experts say early childhood nutrition programs and school meal programs, some of which have been available for decades, are invaluable to the health of millions of US children. Certified child nutrition epidemiologist Sibylle Kranz at the University of Virginia said many children do not have access to food at home and evidence shows that when children go hungry, they do not perform as well in the classroom.
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Menus at St. Charles Parish schools in Louisiana increasingly reflect student preferences gleaned from taste-test focus groups, said Teresa Brown, director of child nutrition. At least 50% of students must approve of a dish before it can go on the menu, and Brown said the school system's nutritionists then must work to match the food idea with federal nutrition regulations and keep it within budget.
A New Hampshire farm-to-table program gets students involved in planting, growing and selling fresh ingredients that become a part of school lunches. Students learned to tap raw maple sap from school trees and transform it into syrup, an activity that also taught them about science and math.
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A Virginia pediatrician's practice includes a test kitchen where children and their parents can taste and prepare new foods. The doctor has also developed a nutrition curriculum, which has been implemented in local preschools.
Researchers examined more than 2,500 high-school football players from 24 schools in Greenville, S.C., and found that those who participated in the Heads Up concussion prevention program had one-third lower odds of developing head injuries, compared with those who weren't in the program. The findings presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine meeting also showed a 27% faster recovery from concussion among those who were in the program.
Despite recent action by Congress to remove Obama-era regulations, states are in the final stages of developing school accountability plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act, says Anne Hyslop, a former US Education Department official who helped write the law. In their plans, many states are considering judging schools and districts by a number of new metrics, including chronic absenteeism, Hyslop notes.
The School Nutrition magazine team could not be more thrilled with the submissions from the 2016-17 "Where's Ruby Roaming?" contest! SN's mascot, Ruby Reader, completed her usual cross-country travels, but the fun didn't stop there. This year she even made her way to international locations like Germany, Iceland and Peru! Read the March 2017 issue to see what photos and activities were featured in "Ruby Reader: Globe-Roamer Extraordinaire." Plus, look for Ruby's next adventure in the June/July 2017 issue of School Nutrition magazine -- when you compete for prizes in the annual "What's Ruby Reading?" contest!