Chefs cook up ideas for healthy school lunches

Check out this PBS report on what the nation’s school chefs are doing to improve the health of oft-criticized school lunch. And find more resources about healthy school lunch.

Obesity rates rise 90 percent in 17 states since 1995

Obesity rates climbed at least 90 percent in 17 states from 1995 to last year, gains that have a direct bearing on U.S. health spending, according to a report. Read more in Bloomberg.

Two boys and two girls walking to school with backpacksWho’s walking to school – and who’s not?

Children living in urban areas and from lower-income families are more likely to walk or ride a bicycle to school, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday.  Those activities have proven health benefits. Read more about the research on this CNN blog. And read more about biking and walking to school from EdNews Parent.

EatWell@School fundraiser announced

For people interested in healthy schools and those who like planning ahead: Consider joining LiveWell Colorado at its annual fundraising luncheon and
 celebrate the culmination of its 2011 EatWell@School initiative, a
 10-week after school healthy cooking competition for high school
 students in Denver Public Schools. The winning meal will be served at
 the luncheon. The event will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, at the 
Sheraton Denver Downtown
. To purchase corporate tables, tickets or to receive information on 
sponsorship opportunities, please contact Becky Grupe at 720-353-4120 Ext. 209 or beckygrupe@livewellcolorado.org.

Colorado Proud School Meal Day webinar scheduled

Do you want to participate in this year’s Colorado Proud School Meal Day, Sept. 14, but need more information? Participate in this webinar from 11 a.m. to noon Monday, Aug. 1, to learn about the benefits of locally sourced food, how to find producers, how to promote the event, and much more. The one-hour webinar will include speakers from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado Farm to School, LiveWell Colorado, and local school food service directors who will share their experiences and provide tips for making it a fun and successful day. Register online at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/474333266.

Recording available on state’s new PE requirements

LiveWell Colorado recently hosted a webinar focused on implementation of Colorado HB 11-1069, the “Physical Activity Expectations in Schools” legislation. To view a recording of the webinar, which discusses physical activity requirements in Colorado Schools, please click here.

Chic Penne pasta dish with pasta, chicken and broccoliGreeley school takes second in healthy recipe competition

Congratulations to Greeley’s Winograd K-8 school for bringing home an award from the national Recipes for Healthy Kids competition, which is co-sponsored by Let’s Move! and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Winograd K-8 team’s healthy and delicious “Chic’ Penne” recipe was awarded second place in the competition’s grains category. Check out the winning recipe. Read more about the competition.

Where does Colorado’s school food come from?

LiveWell Colorado has published An Overview of School Food Procurement in Colorado. This web-based report contains information about the current state of school food operations in Colorado – including school meal participation rates, who pays for what, the role of various Colorado agencies, sources and distributors of school food, and the role of the commodities program. Read the report.

Jamie OliverIn Britain, Jamie Oliver health crusade leads to fewer pupils eating school meals

Jamie Oliver’s campaign against the Turkey  Twizzler has cost the taxpayer £500million and resulted in fewer pupils eating school lunches, it emerged yesterday. More than half of primary pupils and around two-thirds of secondary school youngsters are still rejecting the TV chef’s healthier menus. Read more about what’s happening with school lunches across the pond, as they say, in the Daily Mail. Read a recent Q&A with Oliver.

TV affects a child’s sleep patterns

Young children who have a television in their bedrooms watch it more on average and are more likely to have trouble sleeping than those who don’t, a new study found.

Researchers from the Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington looked at sleep patterns and TV usage reported by parents for 612 children ages 3 to 5. Read more in the Boston Globe.

Colorado Springs District 11 gets a garden growing

From the superintendent: School District 11, Galileo School of Math and Science, and Pikes Peak Urban Gardens (PPUG) have entered into a partnership to create an urban garden on the old Galileo tennis courts. The original Galileo grant stated that a greenhouse was to be part of the school and required creating partnerships with the community. The partnership between D11, Galileo, and PPUG will accomplish these goals. A 42′ diameter geodesic dome greenhouse will be built on the old tennis courts; this project will be completed by July of this year. The greenhouse will be 13′ high and will contain a water reservoir in the center; the water reservoir is to capture and store heat, and there will eventually be an aquaponics set-up in this reservoir. The greenhouse will be used to grow produce year round. The area outside of the greenhouse will be a sensory garden and a permaculture garden.

Lafayette Elementary students Lining up to plant school garden.The remainder of the tennis courts will be raised beds for vegetable production. In the center of the raised beds there will be a gathering area for school classes, community meetings and classes (gardening classes and nutrition classes are a couple of examples), and other outside events.

Small areas inside the greenhouse and in the raised beds will be set aside for students to conduct plant/soil based research for classes and for science fairs. The garden itself will be a space in which all teachers can teach and all students can learn; it is not set aside just for science. There will be a compost pile to the west of the greenhouse to make soil for the raised beds. All other growing space will be for production. The District Food & Nutrition Services department will buy all of the produce grown in the garden to use in our school cafeterias. This project is designed to create revenue so that a part-time master gardener can oversee the growing spaces.

One of the typical downfalls of school-based gardens is that the primary growing season is when everyone is gone. With a part-time master gardener watching the project year round, we will be able to keep the garden in production even when people are off for the summer. The produce grown over the summer could be used to feed some of our students who rely on school lunch for a consistent meal.

This project is poised to be a national model for growing healthy food and getting it into the hands of kids; very few school districts are attempting this type of “in-house” system. Read more about school gardens.

Schools penalized for food service problems result in fine

Problems in recording which students were eligible for free meals resulted in Trinidad School District #1 being penalized by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). At last Tuesday’s meeting, the school board agreed to return $214,000 to CDE.

The district’s food service was subject to a review and audit by the state last year which revealed extensive problems in the way eligibility for free meals was being recorded. Read more in the Trinidad Times.

Parents’ military deployment may harm kids’ mental health

TUESDAY, July 5 (HealthDay News) – Children with a parent on long-term military deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan are at increased risk for mental health problems, new research suggests. Read more in US News. Read an expert’s advice to deployed parents or their spouses.

Program keeps kids from going hungry

A turkey sandwich, an apple and a cookie.

This is the type of lunch many people take for granted, but for children who take part in Colorado`s Summer Food Service Program, this lunch is a blessing. Read more in the Broomfield Enterprise.

Late talkers do fine as they grow up: study

(Reuters Health) – In good news to parents of late talkers, an Australian study shows a slow start on language is unlikely to have lingering effects on kids’ mental health. Read more at Reuters.

USDA announces improvements in school wellness

The USDA has announced improvements included in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that will enhance local wellness policies in schools in order to promote healthier lifestyles for children. Local wellness policies are an important tool for parents, local educational agencies and school districts to promote student wellness, prevent and reduce childhood obesity, and provide assurance that school meal nutrition guidelines meet the minimum federal school meal standards. Schools participating in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program were required to have local wellness policies in place beginning in the 2006-2007 School Year. Read more from the USDA.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.