EVERYDAY SAFETY Safety in the Bag Have you and other family members begun carrying reusable grocery totes to and from the grocery store and when out and about completing other errands? Some localities have begun charging a disposable bag tax, while some individuals have made this move in their own efforts to reduce materials going to landfills. Be warned, however, that those handy, earth-friendly bags can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, if proper safety and sanitation measures are not followed. According to a survey by the Home Food Safety Program, a collaboration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetics Association) and ConAgra Foods, only 15% of Americans regularly wash their reusable shopping bags. Given repeated exposure to raw meats and vegetables, the bags might pose a serious health risk. A 2010 study funded by the American Chemistry Council urged states to consider public education campaigns warning of the risk of bags and requiring printed instructions on reusable bags to indicate whether they need to be cleaned or even bleached between uses. But a July 2010 Consumer Reports article countered that the small size of the research sample undercut the value of the findings. “A person eating an average bag of salad greens gets more exposure to these bacteria than if they had licked the insides of the dirtiest bag from this study,” said a senior spokesperson. Nonetheless, there’s universal agreement that consumers should take common-sense precautions to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. According to the Home Food Safety Program, these include cleaning shopping bags regularly (either in the washing machine or by hand with hot, soapy water); cleaning all areas where you place your bags, such as the kitchen counter; storing bags in a clean, dry location; and avoiding leaving empty bags in the trunk of a vehicle. Additionally, when shopping, transporting, cooking, serving and storing foods, always be sure to separate raw meats from ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination. When grocery shopping, wrap meat, poultry and fish in plastic bags before placing in your grocery tote. Use two different easy-to-identify totes, one for raw meats and one for ready-to-eat foods. For more suggestions on how to avoid cross-contamination and food poisoning, visit www.homefoodsafety.org. Nutri NET Team Nutrition: Resource Library http://teamnutrition.usda.gov/foodservice.html This page features a comprehensive listing of the many resources available to school nutrition professionals through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Team Nutrition program. Included are links to HealthierUS School Challenge information and an application kit, school nutrition training materials, technical assistance manuals, nutrition education materials and decorative posters. Food Environment Atlas www.ers.usda.gov/FoodAtlas This USDA resource assembles statistics on different food environment factors within a geographic area—such as store and restaurant proximity, food prices, food and nutrition assistance programs and community characteristics—and examines how they interact to influence the food choices and diet quality of residents. Users can create maps to compare each indicator and review by county. Farm to School FAQs www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/F2S/ faqs.htm As you explore farm- to- school options, put to use some answers to common questions discovered in USDA’s Farm to School efforts. Topic areas include farm/school partnerships, program implementation resources, funding, procurement and food safety. FOOD PROFILE Lentil Fundamentals Since the publication of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) final rule establishing new national nutrition standards for school meals, many K-12 foodservice operations have been busy reviewing and updating their menus to meet these new requirements. One challenge is the mandate to serve certain vegetable subcategories, including legumes (dry beans and peas); these subgroups (which also include dark green and red/orange vegetables) have been identified as being under-consumed by school-aged children. In addition, legumes can qualify for the meat/meat alternate protein requirement, but a single serving cannot meet the requirements for both categories. Because of their high nutrient content and low cost, USDA encourages menu planners to include legumes in the school menu regularly. The legumes category includes lentils , which along with dry peas, chickpeas and dry beans, are considered a member of the pulses family. Pulses contain almost no fat and zero cholesterol and also are low in sodium and naturally high in potassium, which aids in reducing blood pressure. Lentils, in particular, contain 6 grams more protein, 6 grams more fiber and 323 grams more potassium per 1⁄2 cup serving than brown rice. In fact, one cup of lentils provides more than 60% of the daily dietary fiber requirement! A lentil is a lens-shaped seed that grows in a pod on the lentil plant. It’s considered a cousin of the bean, ranging in color from red to green. In the United States, most lentils are grown in North Dakota and Montana. You likely have heard of lentil soup— but can lentils be prepared into other kid-friendly recipes for schools? You bet! How does Lentil Apple Muffin sound? Or Oriental Chicken Salad with Lentils? In fact, lentils and other pulses can be incorporated into a wide variety of kid-friendly foods, including mashed potatoes, pastas and even cookies. For recipe about lentils and other pulses, visit www ea-lentil.com. PHYSICAL FITNESS Take the Challenge! The President’s Challenge, the longstanding national physical fitness promotion program, teaches children and teens about the benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle. This program is an educational resource that lends itself to partnerships between the school nutrition team and other school stakeholder groups in promoting health and wellness to children. While your school’s physical education department will likely take responsibility for coordinating the fitness tests recommended by the program (including curl-ups, pull-ups and running/walking), school nutrition operators can teach students about the value of nutritious, balanced meals and the role a proper diet plays in physical achievement. To coincide with when Challenge fitness tests are conducted, decorate the cafeteria with images of athletes to inspire your students. Explain how the healthy foods you offer in the cafeteria can provide them with energy and nutrients as they approach the fitness tests. The President’s Challenge has bestowed awards to more than 50 million youth for their active lifestyles, physical fitness and health fitness. But the program isn’t just for students—the President’s Challenge has evolved to a broader promotion with components designed for adults and seniors, as well. So, why not consider signing up individually or encouraging coworkers to join you in accepting the challenge? Visit www.presidentschallenge.org for more information. HEALTHY RECIPES By a Kid, for Kids As a result of an Alliance for a Healthier Generation (AHG) collaboration with “iCarly” star Reed Alexander, you can serve your students healthy, delicious recipes created by one of their peers. The AHG teamed with the 17-year-old star to develop four fresh and healthy school lunch recipes as part of the group’s Healthy Schools Program. The appealing new dishes, which have been kid-tested, are Kewl Tuna Salad Flatbread; Asian Salad Bowl; Cranberry, Pear and Provolone Salad Pizza; and South of the Border Salad Pizza. Each meets or exceeds U.S. Department of Agriculture final meal pattern requirements and includes a focus on increased lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lowfat and fat-free dairy, in addition to reduced total fat, saturated fat and sodium levels. “Schools are always looking for fun and creative ways to introduce healthier options to their students,” says SNA President Helen Phillips, SNS, senior director of school nutrition for Norfolk (Va.) Public Schools, who piloted the recipes with her students. “With their fun, healthy spin on ‘pizza’, Reed’s recipes got our students engaged and excited about their lunches.” Building on the Alliance’s launch of healthy school meal recipes developed by television personality and author Rachael Ray in Fall 2011, Alexander’s recipes are designed to inspire students to try healthier options in their school cafeterias. [Editors’ Note: For more on Rachael Ray’s connection with school nutrition, see “Cooking Up Something Special for You and Your Students,” April 2012.] To view the recipes or for more information about AHG’s Healthy Schools Program, visit www.healthiergeneration.org. When not filming his hit show, Alexander enjoys experimenting with ingredients and creating his own recipes, many of which he shares on his website KewlBites.com. The site contains healthy recipe ideas, exercise tips and celebrity interviews. He has collaborated with AHG since 2010 to encourage his peers to live a healthy lifestyle. LOCALLY GROWN School to Farm Fun With farm-to-school initiatives bringing a resurgence of creative nutrition education activities to K-12 schools across the country, it’s no wonder that South Dakota SNA (SDSNA) Chapter 4 discovered that a slight twist on the concept makes for a great field trip opportunity—not for the kids, but for the adults! During a chapter meeting, Yankton (S.D.) School District SNA members toured Hebda Family Farms for a “school-to-farm” adventure and learning session. The Hebda family has sold apples to schools in the area for several years. While participating in a hay ride, chapter members learned how the orchards and other crops are cared for and how items are prepped for sale. They visited a corn maze, tunnels where crops are planted during South Dakota’s colder months and a processing building where apples are washed and prepared for market. Yankton School Nutrition Director Sandi Kramer notes that seeing where fruit is grown and the safety procedures that growers must follow builds appreciation and confidence by the school nutrition team in buying from local farmers. Do you have an interest in taking your team or chapter off-site to learn more about school nutrition? Consider a visit to a local farm or food processing center. It just might be the “field” trip needed to boost awareness of and interest in locally grown procurement and menuing. RESEARCH From Policy to Practice Bridging the Gap, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, researches policies, programs and other factors that contribute to physical activity/inactivity, dietary behaviors and obesity. It released a January 2012 study comparing elementary school policies and practices to improve health and prevent obesity between 2006 and 2010. Among the areas examined were participation in the National School Lunch Program, specific lunch items offered, meal prices, participation in Team Nutrition, the availability of school gardens and farm-to-school programs and more. The findings from Bridging the Gap revealed that while the availability of healthier foods and beverages at lunch had increased over the period of the survey, almost all public elementary school students still had pizza available some, more or every day, while nearly three-quarters were being offered a deep-fried potato product most or every day. Plus, access to a la carte items served at the elementary level had increased by 10%. On the other hand, the percentage of elementary school students offered salads (pre-made or salad bars) was holding steady at 40%, while about two-thirds had access to fresh fruit at lunch. The availability of farm-to-school programs and school gardens increased 13% and 8%, respectively. The use of a food as a reward in the classroom was found to have decreased over time. The researchers offer several recommendations based on their findings, noting that they expected to see a number of changes as a consequence of the new meal pattern regulations and the provisions of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Among their recommendations were the importance of increasing federal reimbursement rates for school meals, increasing technical assistance training for foodservice staff and limiting the availability of unhealthy products in the classroom. An accompanying November 2011 research brief took an in-depth view at the value of the Team Nutrition program, offered through USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. The research drew a correlation between healthier lunch meal practices and participation by schools in Team Nutrition and having access to Team Nutrition resources. To view the executive summary of the results of the full study or the Team Nutrition research brief, visit www.bridgingthegapresearch.org/research/elementary_school_survey. Enter to WIN Silver Success When Lyman Graham was named the 2012 Silver Plate Award winner in the elementary and secondary schools category by The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA), he achieved a noteworthy distinction in the history of the awards. “[When they told me I won, they said] no small schools like mine had ever won. Being named the winner was hard to believe. I was shocked,” he recounts. The prestigious Silver Plate recognizes achievements in foodservice management, marketing, human resources and industry and civic participation. Graham is foodservice director for Dexter (N.M.) Consolidated Schools, Carlsbad (N.M.) Municipal Schools and Roswell (N.M.) Independent School District. Last year, he was named SNA’s 2011 Outstanding Director of the Year. [Editors’ Note: For more about Graham, see “In Profile,” December 2011.] Graham refuses to take all the credit for the Silver Plate honor, recognizing his “hardworking, loyal staff and the students from each district for believing that school cafeterias are the best restaurants in town.” Among Graham’s accomplishments (with his team), he increased student participation in Dexter’s school meals program from 35% to 95% by improving food quality, adding salad bars and launching a Breakfast After the Bell program. He also tripled the department’s annual revenues, in part by starting a catering operation. Additionally, he has raised breakfast participation at Carlsbad from 15% to 97% and increased the annual budget from $2.1 million to $3.9 million. Participation in Roswell also has soared— from 41% to 80% over nine years, with the annual budget growing from $2.9 million to $4.8 million. Graham has served SNA on the national level as a member of the Nominating Committee (2009-11) and Public Policy & Legislation Committee (2006-present). In addition, he has organized and chaired the wellness committees of all three of his districts and served in every office and on every committee of the New Mexico School Nutrition Association (NMSNA). He currently serves as NMSNA treasurer. Graham has earned professional designations as a Master Certified Food Executive (MCFE), Certified HAACP Manager (CHM) and Certified Professional Food Manager (CPFM). The IFMA awards ceremony was held in Chicago in May. Get Cookin’! Calling all school nutrition professionals! You know how much your students love your healthy, tasty cafeteria offerings. But how do they stack up against school meals served by your peers across the country? Enter Rachael Ray’s Yum-o! Healthy School Meals Contest to find out! Presented by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Yum-o! and SNA, this competition is designed to spotlight creative meals from school nutrition professionals across the country. The grand-prize winner will earn a trip to New York City for two, including airfare, hotel accommodations, tickets to the “Rachael Ray Show” and a meal stipend. The winner also will be featured in School Nutrition magazine and earn a free registration to ANC Denver. The judges are searching for innovative, delicious, nutritious school lunches that appeal to students and can be easily replicated in school nutrition operations. Build your healthy tray, including a meat/ meat alternate, bread/grain, vegetables and fruit. Visit www.healthiergeneration.org for the complete rules and requirements and to enter. But don’t delay; entries are due by June 15, 2012. Go for a Grant! Looking to start a farm-to-school program in your district? The U.S. Department of Agriculture encourages you to apply to its Farm to School Grant Program. Applicants must identify a community partner and apply for either a Planning grant or Implementation grant. Planning grants are expected to range from $20,000-$45,000, and Implementation grants are expected to range from $65,000 to $100,000. Awards will be announced and funds will be available shortly after early October 2012. Proposals are due June 15, 2012. To apply and for more information, visit www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/f2s/f2_grant_ program.htm. Crantastic If any of your go-to recipes for picnics, potlucks and parties feature cranberries, try your hand at entering the Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center’s “Cranberry Party Foods” recipe contest. Recipes can incorporate fresh whole cranberries, sweetened dried cranberries, cranberry sauce and/or cranberry juice. Winners will receive an assortment of prizes. The entry deadline is June 30, 2012. To enter or for more information, visit http://tinyurl. com/87mugpq. Pasta Perfect Barilla Foodservice seeks entries in its Go for Great Grains Recipe Contest. School nutrition professionals are invited to submit recipes to the K-12 category. Recipes using Barilla® Whole Grain or Barilla® PLUS® pastas will be judged on creativity, taste and appetite appeal, mass appeal and nutrition. Category winners will earn a registration to the Culinary Institute of America’s World of Flavors Conference in Napa Valley, Calif., in November. Entries are due by August 31, 2012. For more information and to enter, visit www.barillarecipecontest.com. The Legend of Lentils Submit your original recipe containing at least 1⁄2 cup of raw lentils or 1 cup of cooked lentils to the National Lentil Festival Cook-Off, and your recipe could be prepared at the National Lentil Festival in Pullman, Wash., in August for judging by the public. (Finalists are welcome, but not required, to attend.) First place will receive $1,000, second place $500, third place $250 and fourth, fifth and sixth places $50 each. A special $100 prize also will be awarded. Entries must be submitted by July 2, 2012. To submit an entry or for more details, visit http://tinyurl.com/85cqes9. The Science of Success Congratulations to Lakyya Washington of Meadowthorpe Elementary School in Lexington, Ky., the winner of the design-a-bag contest sponsored by Mission Nutrition, the school nutrition promotions program of Mello Smello. This year’s contest theme was “Cooking With Science.” Lakyya will receive a bicycle and helmet, and her art will be featured on a Mello Smello Super Sack® for National School Lunch Week 2012, which will be available in the company’s catalog beginning in August. For more on the company’s bags, visit www.mission-nutrition. com. Top Producer The United Fresh Produce Association named the winners of its fifth United Fresh Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards. Jessica Shelly, director of foodservices for Cincinnati (Ohio) Public Schools, received top honors in the K-12 school foodservice category. Winners were honored for their incorporation of fresh produce into menu development, use of protocols for correct storage and handling of produce, leadership in produce-related community service and special events and recognition by company and industry peers. Produce Picks Get ready for harvest season by entering your favorite produce-filled meal in Country Woman’s “Pick of Spring Produce” contest. Recipes featuring such produce favorites as lettuce, asparagus, spinach, strawberries and garden- -fresh herbs are welcome, as are recipes from all meal parts. One grand-prize winner will receive $500, second prize will receive $300 and third prize $200. Runners-up will receive a subscription to Country Woman. The deadline to enter is August 1, 2012. To enter, mail submissions to “Pick of Spring Produce” Recipe Contest, Country Woman, 5400 S. 60th St., Greendale, WI 53129. For more details or to enter online, visit www. tasteofhome.com/Contests/Recipe-Contests/ Pick-of-Spring-Produce. Innovative Inventions The National Restaurant Association’s 2012 Kitchen Innovations™ Award honored cutting-edge equipment in the foodservice market that improves quality, productivity, service and sustainability. Among the winners were Alto-Shaam, Inc.’s Combitherm® Automatic Grease Collection System, Garland Commercial Ranges’ Induction Griddle, Kitchens to Go’s Bolt on Kitchens built by Carlin Manufacturing, RATIONAL USA’s SelfCookingCenter ® with whitefficiency® and HiDensityControl® and Vulcan’s VTEC Infrared Charbroiler. For more information and a complete list of the winners, visit www. restaurant.org/show/kitchen-innovations.cfm. Equipped to Win ITW Food Equipment Group-North America has earned ENERGY STAR®’s Sustained Excellence Award, the program’s highest honor, for the third consecutive year. The award recognizes the company’s continued leadership in protecting the environment through energy efficiency. ITW Food Equipment Group-North America is the parent organization of Hobart, Traulsen, Stero, Vulcan, Wittco and Wolf. To learn more about ENERGY STAR, visit www. energystar.gov.
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