Vilsack defends new USDA school nutrition guidelines

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack argued that lowering nutrition standards would harm students who depend on the program's meals.

WASHINGTON–U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack lashed out Thursday against critics seeking to weaken the country's nutrition standards for school lunches, arguing that changes to the successful program would harm millions of students who depend on the meals.

The USDA has phased in new nutrition guidelines for school meals to address the childhood obesity epidemic and to help those at risk of going hungry, boosting whole-grain requirements, lowering sodium levels and setting limits for calories.

An estimated 31 million students, including 384,000 in Iowa, participate in the school lunch program.

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Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., is celebrating National Nutrition Month by offering free weekly samples of plant-based items , as well as hosting produce-centric events around campus, the Indiana Daily Student reports.

Every Wednesday this month, students will be able to sample such dishes as vegetable vindaloo, lemon-herb quinoa salad, and pistachio and apricot couscous. Some of the items featured have been offered previously on campus, while others are new recipes.

The university has also partnered with a culinary training organization to launch two plant-based...

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has announced $900,000 in mini grants to expand alternative breakfast programs at school districts throughout the state, Pittsburgh Action News reports . The governor secured the additional funding as part of the 2017-18 state budget.

“Students who start the day with a healthy breakfast are ready to focus and learn,” Wolf said in a press release. “Expanding access to school breakfast is an effective way to positively impact the lives and performance of individual students, as well as improve the overall climate in schools and classrooms.”


Menu Development

At University of North Dakota, National Nutrition Month in March sometimes elicits as much excitement as the NCAA basketball tournament or spring break. That’s when the school’s version of the TV show “Chopped” takes place. The competition is an event organized by UND Dining’s registered dietitian, Dustin Frize, in partnership with the college’s chefs. Students are organized into teams, given a basket of nutritious foods and tasked with creating winning dishes. “Healthfulness is a key component of the judging,” Frize says.

And this unique partnership is gaining traction nationwide...

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The dining team at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., has updated the halal offerings at its student center after student concerns of cross-contamination and mislabeling, The Hofstra Chronicle reports.

After listening to students, the center’s halal options were moved from a self-serve line to a hot entree station. The dining team also updated its signage to better indicate which meals are halal.

In addition to halal hot dogs and hamburgers, students will now have the option of halal beef as well as new globally inspired halal meals.

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