March Is National Nutrition Month The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) challenges you to “Put Your Best Fork Forward” for National Nutrition Month® (NNM), being mindful that every bite counts when it comes to taking charge of your health. As a school nutrition professional, you can do double duty for NNM 2017: make changes to improve your own health, while reiterating important healthy eating messages to students and families in your community. There are so many things you can do to share the key takeaways of this year’s NNM theme. Focus on committing to an eating plan that includes a variety of your nutritious favorites. Experiment with healthier ingredients that are new to you; vow to select something different and unusual in the produce section of the supermarket. Find a local nutritionist—perhaps a registered dietitian working in your department or your physician may make referrals. Invest in one or two counseling sessions to develop a personalized approach to making sustainable changes to help you manage your weight and your diet. Put your school nutrition hat back on to promote NNM to your customers. You can engage students and other school community stakeholders even with minimal time to plan. » Create a list of traditional favorites from international or U.S. regional cuisines and highlight the healthiest options. Offer suggestions to improve the nutrition profile of others, either with ingredient substitutes, portion control or pairing with other menu items for the best balance. » Share a nutrition fact or question of the day via social media outlets, morning announcements, menu displays and email. » Set up a display that allows students to vote for their favorite fruits and vegetables, tallying and sharing the votes. » Create a simple pledge sheet for students and ask them to make one nutrition-related commitment each Monday during the month. Suggest they take these home to share with their parents, as well. Read More: “National Nutrition Month,” Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, http://tinyurl.com/NNM-SN THE STORY BEHIND ST. PATRICK’S DAY In mid-March, you probably menu some type of Irish specialties at lunch or at least offer shamrock-shaped treats. Everyone is wearing green and the serving line is quite festive with decorations. But do you know why St. Patrick gets a special celebration every year? St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, earned his claim to fame for missionary work in spreading Christianity throughout Ireland at some point in the fourth or fifth centuries. There are many legends associated with his work in Ireland; his success in driving the “snakes” out of the country, for example, is a reference to helping Christianity to prevail over older Celtic religions. March 17 is supposedly the date of his death, and his namesake day has become identified both with religious obligations and a celebration of Irish culture and heritage. Although it has been a feast day in the Christian church for centuries, the holiday that we recognize didn’t take root until many Irish had left their homeland. In 1737, the Charitable Irish Society of Boston organized the first colonial observance, meant to honor their heritage, but without any religious implications. The first recorded parade for the holiday in North America was in New York City in 1766. Across the pond, St. Patrick’s Day didn’t become an official public holiday in Ireland until 1903! Over time, March has become Irish-American Heritage Month, and cities across the United States celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in style—with parades and parties and more elaborate traditions, such as the practice by Chicago and other cities in dyeing local rivers green. While many enjoy the merriment of the occasion, some have bemoaned the increased commercialization of the observance, along with an emphasis on negative stereotypes about the Irish. What’s your favorite way to observe St. Patrick’s Day? Read More: “The Origins of St. Patrick’s Day,” Georgia Public Broadcasting, http://tinyurl.com/StPatricks-SN CERVICAL CANCER: ARE YOU AT RISK? RECENT NEWS ABOUT CERVICAL CANCER IS DISMAL. First, the death rate from this disease has been found to be much higher than previously estimated. In addition, there is a significant disparity in death rates between black and white women. A 2017 study published in the journal Cancer determined that the mortality rate from cervical cancer for black women is 10.1 per 100,000, while for white women, it’s 4.7 per 100,000. Cervical cancer is largely treatable, according to health professionals, as it can be detected early with regular screenings. So why is the death rate higher than previously thought? When calculating a death rate, researchers compare the number of those who die from a disease against the general population that is at risk for it. Previously, researchers counted women who have had hysterectomies as part of the population at risk; however, a woman who has had the procedure cannot get cervical cancer. By removing those women and assessing the true number of women who can be diagnosed and have died from the cancer, the rate is much higher. The best way to discover and treat cervical cancer early is to have regular Pap test screenings. The study, though, found that women who were more likely to die from the disease did not have regular gynecological care, and those women tended to be black and poor. Risk factors for developing cervical cancer include HPV infection, smoking, a weak immune system, being overweight, a diet low in fruits and vegetables and long-term use of oral contraceptives, among others. Talk to your doctor about whether you’re at risk for developing this or other diseases, and what you can do to take charge of your health. Read More: “Cervical Cancer,” American Cancer Society, http://tinyurl.com/cervicalcancer-SN 452 The number of years it will take to eradicate extreme childhood poverty across the globe. Source: Save the Children School Breakfast: Slow But Steady School breakfast participation rates continue to rise across the country, according to the annual School Breakfast Scorecard, released in mid-February by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). The Scorecard comes out just weeks before individual communities prepare to celebrate and promote the value of school breakfast during National School Breakfast Week, March 6-10. Nationally, on an average day during SY 2015-16, 12.1 million students eligible to receive free and reduced-price school meals participated in the School Breakfast Program (SBP), which was an increase of 3.7%, or nearly 433,000 children from SY 2014-15. This year, an average of 56 low-income children participated in the SBP for every 100 participating in the National School Lunch Program. The top two performers identified in the Scorecard—West Virginia and New Mexico—exceeded FRAC’s goal of reaching 70 low-income children with school breakfast for every 100 who ate school lunch. FRAC also released School Breakfast: Making it Work in Large School Districts, a companion report to the Scorecard. Of the 73 large school districts surveyed for this report, 26 achieved FRAC’s benchmark of serving 70 low-income children with school breakfast for every 100 receiving school lunch. Communities that are not maximizing school breakfast participation not only miss out on its anti-hunger, academic and health benefits, but they also lose potential economic advantages. The Scorecard itemizes the extent to which many states left a significant amount of money on the table by not reaching more eligible children with school breakfast. Large states, such as California, Florida and New York, would have collectively brought in an additional $252 million in federal resources had they met the goal. Read More: “School Breakfast Scorecard,” http://tinyurl.com/SBScorecard-SN; “School Breakfast Making it Work in Large School Districts,” http://tinyurl.com/SBFRAC-SN 3 Ways to … Declutter Quickly 1 FIND THREE BOXES AND MARK THEM AS “KEEP,” “DONATE” AND “TRASH.” Each day, move from room to room and toss items into each box. This requires you to make decisions item by item, which reduces the chances that you’ll make a bigger mess than the one you started with. 2 IF YOU ONLY HAVE ROOM TO DECLUTTER ONE SPACE, make it a flat surface, such as a countertop or table, which seem to be magnets for unnecessary items. Recycle old magazines, shred old bills and find a home for small tools in your drawers or cabinets. 3 DETERMINE IF AN ITEM HAS MONETARY VALUE TO YOU (i.e. you spend your hard-earned cash on it, so you don’t want to part with it) or sentimental value (it actually means something to you). If an item only has monetary value but you don’t use it, let go of the idea that it’s worth keeping—it’s time to get rid of it. PROMO PLANNER APRIL National Autism Awareness Month National Volunteer Appreciation Month National Robotics Week (Apr. 8-16) Passover (Apr. 10-18) Administrative Professionals Week (Apr. 23-29) National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day (Apr. 2) National School Librarian Day (Apr. 4) Easter (Apr. 16) NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Begin (Apr. 19) Earth Day (Apr. 22) MAY Melanoma Awareness Month National Barbecue Month National Salad Month National Teacher Appreciation Week (May 1-5) National Pet Week (May 7-13) Cinco de Mayo (May 5) School Lunch Hero Day (May 5) Kentucky Derby (May 6) National School Nurse Day (May 11) Mother’s Day (May 14) JUNE National Dairy Month National Safety Month National Zoo and Aquarium Month Sun Safety Week (June 4-10) U.S. Open Golf Tournament Begins (June 15-18) National Running Day (June 7) World Ocean’s Day (June 8) Flag Day (June 14) Father’s Day (June 18) First Day of Summer (June 21) For more holiday and promo ideas, visit the 2016-17 Promotional Calendar at www.schoolnutrition.org/promocalendar. “TUESDAY” TIDBITS Paid Lunch Equity Exemption Extended The availability of an exemption to the Paid Lunch Equity (PLE) requirement for school food authorities (SFAs) in strong financial standing has been extended through SY 2017-18. According to USDA guidance issued January 12, 2017, state agencies should provide requested exemptions if the SFA has been certified in meeting the meal pattern requirements and can demonstrate that the required increase to paid lunch prices or revenue contributions would cause the SFA to exceed the three-month operating balance limit. The memo can be found at www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/cn/SP17-2017os.pdf. New Report Questions Sodium Cuts A new report published by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) concludes that restricting sodium is not the best way to go about reducing hypertension in the United States. The report is based on a review of scientific literature and 40 years of government efforts focused on sodium restriction, as well as studies on alternate options for reducing high blood pressure. The report comes after USDA and other agencies have set goals for cutting sodium. To read more details about the research findings, visit https://cei.org/content/shaking-conventional-wisdom-salt. Vilsack Endorses Perdue Former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who served in the position from 2009 to 2017, has publicly stated his support of Sonny Perdue, former governor of Georgia, as the new head of USDA. “I have had the opportunity to work with Gov. Perdue and know how committed he is to all of our farmers, ranchers and producers, regardless of size or production method,” Vilsack said in a written statement. “As a former governor, he knows full well the opportunities and challenges that exist in rural communities.” States Take on Child Nutrition State legislatures all across the nation have introduced a variety of measures related to school nutrition operations. In Hawaii, one bill establishes a farm to school grant program, while another addresses unpaid student meal balances. Bills in Alabama, Connecticut and New York also encourage expansion of farm to school programs. In addition, legislators in New York will consider a grant-based school breakfast incentive program. Bills in Maryland would eliminate the reduced-price category for breakfast and lunch and authorize secondary schools to serve breakfast in any part of the school. Tuesday Morning is SNA’s free weekly policy e-newsletter. Subscribe at www.schoolnutrition.org/Newsletters/TuesdayMorning. INGREDIENTS FOR HEALTH: BROCCOLI You might have hated these little “trees” as a kid, but hopefully you’ve grown to love them for their nutritional value and their taste. NUTRITIONAL PROFILE. Broccoli contains a crazy amount of vitamins and minerals, including folate (which protects against breast cancer, among other types), vitamin K (which reduces risk of bone fractures), vitamin C (which helps fight skin damage) and plenty of fiber (which helps to prevent constipation). TRY THIS. When you steam broccoli, you want it to stay a vibrant green and keep a little crunch. Bring your water to a boil first, without adding the broccoli, and then add the steamer basket. Set your time for no more than six minutes (smaller florets will only need five minutes). Upon serving, dress it with olive oil and lemon, plus a bit of salt and pepper. HOW TO EAT. Once you’ve cut the broccoli off its stalk, you can eat it raw, steam it, roast it or toss it in soups, casseroles or pasta. Don’t automatically toss those stalks, though—you can shred them for coleslaw, steam and puree them for cream of broccoli soup or add it to water with other vegetables to make a vegetable broth. Broccoli, a cruciferous vegetable, is cousin to kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and cabbage, among others. These veggies all contain sulforaphane, which research suggests gives them cancer-fighting power. READ MORE: “How to Cook Broccoli, 5 Ways,” The Kitchn, http://tinyurl.com/broccoli-SNmag To Infinity and Beyond! On March 1, it will be one-year since astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko returned to Earth after spending 340 days in space, the longest recorded time for International Space Station crew members. In honor of their mission, and Kelly’s upcoming keynote presentation at SNA’s Annual National Conference this summer, let’s take a look at some fascinating facts about our universe. » 8 The total number of planets in our solar system—after Pluto was demoted to dwarf planet in 2006, because it didn’t meet the criteria to be a member of the planetary ranks. » 6.4 billion years The age of the of our solar system (give or take a few million years). » Goldilocks Planets The name given to planets that are in just the right zone to hold life. In the Milky Way, the galaxy we call home, astronomers estimate there could be 100 billion potential Goldilocks planets. » 9 billion miles The estimated distance from the sun to the edge of our solar system. In 1977, NASA launched two space probes, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, and in August 2012, Voyager 1 became the first manmade object to leave the boundaries of our solar system to begin exploring interstellar space. » Planet 9 The name of a potential ninth planet that astronomers are searching for in our solar system, evidence of which was announced in January 2016. If it exists, it would be about 10 times the mass of Earth and 5,000 times the mass of Pluto. OTHER OUT-OF-THIS WORLD FACTS » March 13, 1781 The first recorded date of the discovery of a planet, when William Hershel discovered Uranus with his telescope. Because Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn all can be seen with the naked eye, there’s no accurate information as to who first discovered these extraterrestrial objects. » July 14, 2015 The date that NASA’s space probe New Horizons flew past Pluto in a history-making mission. Its goal was to map the surface composition of Pluto and Charon, the dwarf planet’s moon, among other tasks. The space probe was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on January 19, 2006. » Lucy Not all diamonds are found in mines, and this is the name of the galaxy’s largest diamond, named after the Beatles’ song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” It floats in space some 50 light years away in the constellation of Centaurus and weighs in at 10 billion-trillion-trillion carats (yes, that’s a real number). » 225 million years The length of time that it takes the sun to perform a complete circuit of the galaxy. Last time the sun was in its current position, Pangaea (Earth’s original supercontinent) was just breaking apart and the first dinosaurs were making their appearance. Sources: Cornell University/Ask an Astronomer, ExtremeTech, Library of Congress, NASA, Universe Today and Wikipedia
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