EMPLOYEE WELLNESS Weight to Go… Going…Gone A team approach is a great way to bolster support and encouragement in striving toward wellness goals for the New Year. Just ask the staff members from the Lee's Summit (Mo.) R-7 School District Nutrition Services department, who have joined together to support each other on such a mission. The district's employee wellness committee used funds designated for preventive health measures to support employees at individual serving sites who were interested in participating in the Weight Watchers® program as a group in an effort to learn strategies for healthy eating. In the initial 12 weeks of the program, one team collectively lost more than 410 pounds, while some individual employees have gone on to lose more than 50 pounds apiece! And throughout the district, many employees felt so motivated that they completed additional rounds of the Weight Watchers program. Participants have voiced that their health has improved, with decreased cholesterol levels and More stable blood-sugar levels. In addition, they have reported that they find certain work tasks easier to perform. And one of the best results of the program has been the way employees feel about themselves and how their confidence has reflected on their students. Lori Danella, SNS, Lee's Summit nutrition services coordinator, believes the program has been so successful because coworkers support each other and meetings are held in a central location (the nutrition service conference room), immediately after staff members finish work. And Jane Hentzler, SNS, RD, the district's director of nutrition services, reports that regional Weight Watchers representatives told her that theirs is the first school nutrition staff to organize a Weight Watchers team. Are your employees looking to ramp up their health and wellness goals for the New Year? Let this team inspire you in your efforts to begin making your 2012 resolutions. A pre-winter-break meeting to discuss ideas and a plan for getting into action might help your school nutrition team to stay focused and committed! LET'S MOVE! Publicize and Promote! Have schools in your district received recognition in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) program? Perhaps you have sites that are working hard toward that goal? While you continue to do your part to ensure you are meeting the requireMents of the Challenge, don't forget to take the time to publicize and promote your district's efforts in this area to your community. The HUSSC section of the Team Nutrition website is a valuable source of materials-including promotional templates-that will help you showcase your HUSSC plans and achievements. Included on the site are such resources as a customizable award winner press release, brochure, flyers and a sample letter to parents. Use these to help generate excitement and communicate information about your HUSSC progress; visit www.Fns.usda.gov/tn/HealthierUS/promo tional.html and check them out. And be sure to seek out and take advantage of other opportunities to promote your HUSSC successes to an outside audience. For example, ask if you can share the news at PTA meetings. Be sure to include your progress on your department's website and on menus sent home to families. Use Facebook and Twitter to promote your achievements. What other ideas can you think of to give your district's HUSSC accomplishments the spotlight that they deserve? FOOD LABELING Heart Smart The American Heart Association (AHA) will expand and improve its Heart-Check Food Certification Program to allow certification of more foods that contain healthier fats, including fish, nuts and other foods higher in monoun-saturated and polyun-saturated fats. The updated Food Certification Program also will include revised sodium allowances and screening guidelines to limit added sugars and promote dietary fiber in certified products. Fish, nuts and other foods with heart-health benefits, such as "better fats" (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), are eligible for immediate certification. The updated requirements for sodium, sugar and fiber will be effective in 2014 to allow food manufacturers time to reformulate their production processes. The Heart-Check program allows consumers to identify heart-healthy foods when making purchasing decisions. For a complete list of certified products and participating companies, as well as the nutritional criteria, visit the www.heart checkmark.org website. CONSUMER ATTITUDES Taste Is Tops The International Food Information Council Foundation's 2011 Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes Toward Food Safety, Nutrition & Health examined how Americans view their diets, as well as their efforts to improve what they eat. The survey explored the thoughts, perceptions and behaviors of 1,000 American adults. When choosing a particular food to eat, taste prevails as the number-one factor for food and beverage selections in general (87%) and in restaurants (69%). However, more Americans reported this year than in previous years that the price of a food item is a significant factor in their purchasing decisions (79%). The study also revealed other interesting findings: The healthfulness of a food contributed to 66% of respondents' selection decisions; approximately half perceive themselves to be more healthful in 2011 than they were in 2010; a majority were familiar with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans but were unable to name another "healthy initiative," such as the Let's Move! Campaign; little more than half said that they are "very or somewhat concerned" about their sodium intake; only 9% can accurately estimate the number of calories they should consume each day based on their age, weight, height and level of physical activity; and almost half are unable to correctly estimate how many calories they currently burn in a day. To view the full survey, including results related to food safety practices, visit http://tinyurl.com/3h7fqg6. FRUITS & VEGGIES Making the Grade? Early last spring, the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance (NFVA) released a report that found while some progress has been made in addressing Americans' inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption, there continues to be ongoing problem areas where change has been slow or non-existent. According to the organization, 88% of children do not eat their recommended amount of fruit and 92% do not eat their recommended amount of vegetables. Fruit and vegetable consumption among teens has decreased over the past five years. NFVA rated several areas where opportunity exists to increase consumption of produce items. Receiving an "A" grade from NFVA was the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, the federally funded initiative that provides free fresh fruit and vegetable snacks to students in select schools; the organization applauds the program's expansion since 2005. While NFVA acknowledged that progress is being made to align school meals with the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, more work is needed to improve offerings in school meals, increase use of salad bars and make produce a part of healthy vending options; NFVA gave school meals a "C." Restaurant menus received a "C," as well. The NFVA report credits the fact that restaurants, including fast food establishments, offer a greater availability of fruits and vegetables, but insists more progress is needed. The organization makes a number of recommendations to turn things around: increase the accessibility of fruits and vegetables in communities, schools, work sites and restaurants; strengthen nutrition education programs and promotions that arm consumers with the skills and motivation to make healthier food choices; and align federal funding priorities to be consistent with the Dietary Guidelines. For more information about the grades and suggestions, or to view the full report, visit www.nfva. org/pdfs/nfva/FINALNAP2010.pdf FAMILIES Power Struggle? Children may be more likely to have less-than-ideal eating habits when their parents exert strict control over their diets, either by denying kids all unhealthy options or pressuring them to expand the variety of foods they eat, according to a study by University College London researchers published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. However, the study acknowledged that it is not clear whether parents' tactics are a cause of or a response to children's eating habits. Also unclear is the effect that parent control has on children's weight. The researchers also explored the relationship between mothers' restriction of food and children's responsiveness to food. The results indicated that the more restricted children were in their eating habits, the more likely mothers were to say that their children would over induldge if allowed. The researchers also note that children may both influence and be influenced by their parents' own eating habits. To view the full journal article, see www.Adajournal.org/article/S0002-8223% 2810%2901341-6/pdf. Foodily www.foodily.com Calling itself the "world's largest recipe network," this comprehensive website searches 250 food blogs and websites based on your specifications, including ingredients, food sensitivities and nutrition information. For example, a search for "strawberry" results in thousands of recipes, including for Strawberry Asparagus Country Tart, Watermelon Strawberry Cooler and Strawberry and Leek Quesadillas. Veggie U www.veggieu.org This nonprofit's website allows students and their families to build on what they learn in the classroom to establish a healthy lifestyle at home. Included on the updated site are recipes, home gardening tips and games and quizzes, as well as classroom activity ideas. Veggie U also features a science curriculum designed for 4thgraders and special needs students, teaching them to grow and harvest their own veggies in the classroom. Hey, Kids, Let's Cook! Www.heykidsletscook.com This colorful site features video clips presented by kid chefs (stars of a 30-minute children's television show), as well as recipes and cooking tips geared toward helping kids to feel comfortable in the kitchen. Sample recipes include tacos and Mexican rice, homemade yogurt, granola and parfaits, turkey chili and spaghetti and meatballs. Award of Achievement SNA Past President Penny McConnell, SNS, received a 2011 Medallion Award from the American Dietetic Association (ADA) in September in recognition of her outstanding service and leadership to ADA and the dietetics profession. She is the director of food and nutrition services for Fairfax County (Va.) Public Schools and serves on the board of directors for the Global Child Nutrition Foundation. For more details about the 2011 Medallion Award winners, visit http://tinyurl.com/6jtlp7k. Sustain and Gain The Hobart Center for Foodservice Sustainability will award a $5,000 grant to the organization judged to have the best-executed foodservice sustainability project. Applicants must submit a case study written in 10 or fewer pages explaining how their operation addresses one or more of the following challenges: reducing energy and/or water use, reducing the creation of wastewater or solid waste or implementing farm-to-fork initiatives or other combined programs. Submissions must be received by January 31, 2012. To learn more and to download an application, visit http://tinyurl.com/3rkps4h. States' Success Earlier this fall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced those states that have been awarded Team Nutrition Training Grants for Fiscal Year 2011. The grants will provide nutrition education materials, resources for children and parents and technical assistance and training for school nutrition providers and communities participating in the National School Lunch and Child and Adult Care Food Programs. The funding supports elementary and secondary schools applying for the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC). To view a list of the grant-winning states, visit www.schoolnutrition.org/Blog.aspx?id= 16075. For more information on Team Nutrition Training Grants and how your school can become a Team Nutrition and HUSSC school, visit http://teamnutrition.Usda.gov. Power up With Peanuts Love experimenting with recipes that incorporate peanuts or peanut butter? Try your hand at the Southern Peanut Growers Foodservice Peanut Recipe Contest. A recipe can be entered in any of the four categories.Appetizer/ Snack, Main Dish, Salad/Side Dish or Dessert.and must include at least 1.3 cup of peanuts and/or peanut butter among the ingredients. One grand-prize winner will receive $2,500, and one first prize of $1,000 will be awarded in each of the four categories. The deadline to enter is December 31, 2011. To enter or for more information, visit http://peanutbutterlovers.com/annualcontest. Fun With Fungi Enter the fourth annual Mad about Mushrooms Mushroom Recipe Contest and showcase how you use mushrooms to enhance your culinary life. Original recipes from all parts of the menu are welcome (appetizer, soup, salad/vegetable, main dish, miscellaneous). The grand-prize winner will receive a locally made cedar plank and a copy of A Taste of Oregon. Submissions must be received by January 14, 2012. To enter or for more information, visit www.madaboutmush rooms.com/mad_about_mushrooms/a_ recipe_contest. Cooking Kudos Congratulations to Rebecca Spence of Vancouver, Wash., who was named the winner of the Second Annual Foster Farms Fresh Chicken Cooking Contest. Her Crispy Orange Chicken with Fennel, Avocado and Orange Salad earned her the $10,000 grand prize and a one-year supply of Foster Farms chicken. To view the winning recipes, visit http://fosterfarms.com/cookingcontest/ 2011recipebox.aspx.
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