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Two E. coli cases linked to livestock close Washington school

Two young Washington state girls are hospitalized with complications from E. coli infection and their school has been temporarily closed for cleaning. One of the girls has reportedly developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious kidney condition linked to E. coli infection.

Health officials said the source of their exposure to Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) bacteria was probably not food but contact with animals.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-petting-zoo-image1008725

Contact with livestock can be a source of E. coli infection. (Photo illustration)

“The exact source of contamination in E. coli can be very difficult to identify, but at this point we believe the children were likely exposed to livestock near their home,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer and director of the Snohomish Health District.

A health district Facebook posting indicated that, “… based on our Communicable Disease team’s initial investigation and interviews with family, we do not believe this was caused by a food source.”

The Monroe Montessori School in Monroe, WA, was temporarily closed on Wednesday, and nobody answered the phone there on Thursday. Approximately 60 students and staff members were said to have potentially been exposed to the bacteria and were being tested for the infection.

A health district statement issued Wednesday noted that the school “has temporarily closed for disinfecting as a precaution,” and that the school, the district, the Washington State Department of Health and the Washington State Department of Early Learning were coordinating on the E. coli testing.

Contact with livestock in a rural area, a farm, or a petting zoo are common sources of E. coli bacteria. An outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infection last year in Washington state was traced to a fairgrounds dairy barn in Lynden, WA. That outbreak sickened 25 people, mostly young children, and hospitalized 10 of them.

Symptoms of STEC infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea that is often bloody, and vomiting. If there is fever, it usually is less than 101 degrees F. Most people get better within five to seven days as infections can be mild, but others can be severe or even life-threatening.

Young children and the elderly are more likely to experience serious illness. People with weakened immune systems, including pregnant women, are also at risk for serious illness.

Between 5 and 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli O157 infection develop the potentially life-threatening complication of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Clues that a person is developing HUS include decreased frequency of urination, feeling very tired, and losing pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids.

People with HUS should be hospitalized because their kidneys may stop working and they may develop other serious problems. Most people who develop HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent damage or die.

Handwashing is the most effective way to reduce chances of getting sick. Adults should supervise young children to make sure they don’t put their hands in their mouths and make sure that their hands are washed thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom.

The spread of illnesses from animals, such as those caused by E. coli, are commonly linked to hand-to-mouth contact. It is also important to avoid swallowing water when swimming and playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools, and backyard “kiddie” pools.

More information about STEC and other types of E. coli can be found here.

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USDA’s new school snack standards look to boost healthy offerings

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its new Smart Snacks in School standards that seek to improve the nutritional quality of foods and beverages offered for sale to students in schools.

“Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “Parents and schools work hard to give our youngsters the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, and providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines and snack bars will support their great efforts.”

The new nutrition standards, which must be implemented by July 1, 2014, apply to all foods and beverages sold a la carte, in school vending machines, stores and snack bars.

The new standards will increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products for sale to students, and reduce the amount of calories, fat, sodium and sugar.

“Increasing the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks in schools will go a long way towards creating a healthy school food environment and improving nutrition for 32 million school children,” Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health for the United Fresh Produce Association, said in a press release. “In addition, this will drive opportunities for increased produce sales to schools, especially for fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables in convenient single servings.”

Designed to be consistent with the Dietary Guidelines, foods available for sale will now complement healthier school meals and help create healthier school food environments for U.S. school children, according to the United Fresh press release.

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Removing Fat, Sugar and Salt from the School Snack Menu

Sugary drinks and junk food are out, while flavored water with no calories and fruit cups are in. At least that’s the “Smart Snacks in School” rule USDA-promulgated Thursday under the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010.

Smart Snacks, according to USDA, are science-based nutritional incentives designed to get kids to choose healthier options, including more whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits and vegetable and leaner protein.  Foods high in fat, sugar and sodium will be harder to find in the schools.

With the snack rule, the federal government is opening a second front in its war on childhood and teenage obesity.  It has already imposed calorie-cutting guidelines on participants in the National School Lunch Program.  The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 has been championed by First Lady Michelle Obama.  Improving nutrition in schools goes hand-in-hand with the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign, which encourages more physical activity for youths who are more likely to be spending their time on computers than bicycles.

Thousands of schools have already tossed junk food and colas out of their vending machines and retail stores, but now all the estimated 100,000 elementary, middle and high schools that accept assistance from the National School Lunch Program will have until the 2014-15 school year to comply with the new snack rule, published Thursday in the Federal Register.

The rule sets limits for fat, salt and sugar in school snacks. USDA dropped its controversial plan to apply the snack rule to such events as birthday parties, bake sales, and after school sporting and other event.

It is the first time in over 30 years that national snack rule standards for schools have been updated, according to Michelle Cardoso with The Pew Charitable Trust.

Pew and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are sponsors of the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project that works on food safety and health of school foods. According to the project researchers, school snacks add 112 calories a day to the typical elementary school pupil’s diet.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture ‘s Smart Snacks in School rule is an important step for improving kids’ health, setting a minimum nutritional baseline for snacks and beverages sold in schools, said Jessica Donze Black, director of the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project. “Once those guidelines are fully implemented, the options available to students will be healthy ones.”

“Millions of students currently have widespread access to snacks and beverages that are high in sugar, fat, and sales, but limited access to nutritious options such as fruits and vegetables in school stores, snack bars, and vending machines, ” Black added. “With many students consuming up to half of their daily calories at school, these new standards represent the kind of positive changes we need to help reduce obesity rates among children and teens.”

Black said the next step is for districts to implement the standards, using USDA’s rule as a baseline. “Offering nutritious snacks will help to ensure that the healthy choice is the easy choice for all students, ” she said.

The Kids’ Safe Project has also found children and teens gained less weight over three years if they already reside in cities or state where schools already have strong snack policies.

Making healthier options available in schools also has broad public support, work by the two foundations say. Almost all public schools and more than half of the nation’s private schools do participate in the National School Lunch Program.

Under the new USDA rule, snacks must be limited to 200 calories and include increases in protein, whole grains and nutrients.

USDA snack rule drew more than 250,000 comments when it went up for public review. Language that might have applied the rule to parent bake sales that are a common school fund raising tool drew plenty of response

Food Safety News

Ground Beef in School Lunches Meets Stricter Microbial Standards

According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report published last week, the ground beef supplied to school lunches contains “significantly less” Salmonella contamination than products sold on the commercial market.

USDA’s Economic Research Service examined the impact of food-safety standards imposed by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) on suppliers of ground beef to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

Because ground beef is a staple of school menus and has suffered a number of product recalls in recent years, AMS pays particular attention to the food safety of ground beef. The report addresses the need for information regarding economic incentives for suppliers to improve the food safety of their products.

The researchers found that the food-safety performance of active suppliers exceeded the performance of inactive ones (meaning they sought approval to supply the NSLP but did not bid for contracts) and commercial market suppliers, “suggesting that AMS standards encourage superior food safety performance.”

AMS and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which regulates ground beef sold in general commerce, have different tolerance levels for microbial testing and testing frequency and for certain slaughter operation procedures.

In order to adhere to AMS’ strict tolerances for Salmonella and other potentially harmful pathogens, ground beef suppliers have to make costly investments in sanitation and cleaning. The companies recoup the costs through higher bid prices, but they still have to bid low enough to be selected by AMS.

The research found that inactive AMS suppliers exceeded FSIS’ tolerance for Salmonella, but that they were worse than all other suppliers on tests that were one-half to one-tenth the FSIS tolerance.

Some evidence suggests that AMS-approved suppliers consider their food-safety performance before bidding on contracts to supply the NSLP. Those suppliers who may not be confident that they would meet AMS food-safety standards and don’t bid then sell their ground beef in the commercial market to other buyers.

Food Safety News

School lunch compromise good news to fresh fruit, vegetable suppliers

WASHINGTON — Fruit and vegetable companies will continue to sell to schools that must meet improved nutrition standards thanks to a deal cut in the FY 2015 omnibus spending bill signed Dec. 16 by President Obama.

The appropriations bill that funds U.S. Department of Agriculture programs hit a roadblock when an amendment passed that would have allowed schools struggling to meet the strict standards to be granted a waiver. 

“Although well-intended, some of USDA’s rules went too far, too fast, and ended up driving students away from healthy school meals while unnecessarily driving up costs for schools,” said School Nutrition Association CEO Patricia Montague, who backed the waiver.

A coalition of groups, including the United Fresh Produce Association, urged Congress not to allow schools to opt out of all the new provisions, and this month lawmakers agreed to a compromise that allowed schools flexibility in meeting the whole grain and sodium standards.

“Congress agreed that rolling back the very modest requirement that kids get one-half cup of fruits and vegetables in their lunch would not be good policy and would have been detrimental to achieving our shared public health goal, which is to help children learn to make half-their-plate fruits and vegetables,” said Tom Stenzel, president and chief executive officer of United Fresh. “The modest half-a-cup requirement is one step toward a lifetime of better health for today’s kids, and lower long-term healthcare costs for our country.”

The agreement also sets the stage for next year’s reauthorization of child nutrition programs, which expire in 2015.

“Schools need help in modernizing and streamlining procurement processes, updating refrigeration and cafeteria equipment, and financial resources to support healthy meals,” Stenzel said. “The solution contained in the omnibus passed today resolves a past debate, and sets all of us on a positive course where we can work together to serve our nation’s children.”

On a related note, a draft report from the committee developing the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reported this week the U.S. population has made few dietary changes from 2001-2010, with fruit intake low but stable and vegetable intake declining.

The committee, which recommends changes to the guidelines every five years, is set to recommend U.S. consumers follow a diet high in vegetable, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, seafood, legumes and nuts, and low in red and processed meat, added sugars and refined grains.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Largest School Districts Going With Antibiotic-Free Chicken

On Tuesday evening, the Urban School Food Alliance announced its new antibiotic-free standard for companies to follow when supplying chicken products to its schools.

The Alliance is a coalition of the largest school districts in the U.S., includes New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas and Orlando, and serves nearly 2.9 million students every day.

Under the new standard, all chicken products must be produced under a USDA Process Verified Program that includes compliance with the following:

  • No animal byproducts in the feed.
  • Raised on an all-vegetarian diet.
  • Humanely raised as outlined in the National Chicken Council Animal Welfare Guidelines.
  • No antibiotics ever.

“The standards we’re asking from the manufacturers go above and beyond the quality of the chicken we normally purchase at local supermarkets,” said USFA Chairman Eric Goldstein and chief executive officer of School Support Services for the New York City Department of Education. “This move by the Alliance shows that school food directors across the country truly care about the health and wellness of students.”

Overuse of antibiotics — both in human medicine and in meat and poultry production — contributes to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Mark Izeman, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which helped the Alliance develop the antibiotic-free standard, said that the change “will not only have a dramatic impact on the quality of school meals, but will also help push the entire food industry to move away from animals raised with improper antibiotic use.”

Food Safety News

The Friday Five: New school vs. old school

Here are the top articles from around the web that you may have missed this week. In this edition, we look at a few ways retailers are testing the boundaries of the traditional supermarket and a couple of arguments for keeping the food shopping experience old school.

1. UK supermarket trialing checkout-less shopping
Gizmag details an app from Sainsbury’s in the U.K. that will allow users to do everything from create a grocery list to find items in store to check out from their phones.

2. Loblaw tests new grocery stores offering ‘hard discounts’
Loblaw expanded a test of its “hard discount” stores it calls the Box, which feature a limited assortment of mostly private label products, Global News reports.

3. Area Food Lion stores tout recent upgrades
Food Lion’s second round of store upgrades, in North Carolina, focused on streamlining the checkout process and grouping products by consumer usage, according to the Carteret County News-Times.

4. Why Peapod should be concerned about the state of grocery shopping
The Chicago Business Journal highlights a Technomic study that found consumers rate brick-and-mortar stores higher than online food outlets — including when it comes to convenience.

5. What mom-and-pop stores can teach grocery chains
Strategy + business contends food retailers need to go really old school — as in become more like the general stores that existed before supermarkets — to make customer service a differentiator.

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Health Officials Say Raw Milk Probably Caused Campylobacter Outbreak at Wisconsin School

Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services say that unpasteurized (raw) milk served at a potluck team meal is the likely cause of a Campylobacter outbreak that sickened close to a couple dozen Durand High School football players and coaches this past month.

At least 22 members of the football team were sickened after attending a team dinner on Thursday, Sept. 18. State and county health officials investigating the outbreak had compiled a list of all food and drink they had consumed, and raw milk was apparently on the list.

Subsequent lab tests revealed that the bacteria causing the illnesses was Campylobacter jejuni, which is often found in the digestive systems of poultry and cattle and in animal feces.

State health officials interviewed all members of the football team and the coaching staff to determine what activities, foods and beverages, or anything else they may have commonly been exposed to before being sickened. Those interviews revealed that raw milk consumption was the only food item associated with the illnesses.

Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection collected manure samples from the farm where the raw milk was produced, and the test results showed that the bacteria causing the illnesses among those who drank the raw milk was the same strain found on the farm.

Campylobacter is a bacteria which causes gastrointestinal symptom including diarrhea (possibly bloody), cramping and fever within two to five days of exposure. Symptoms typically last about a week, although some of those infected do not exhibit symptoms.

Confirmed Campylobacter cases are usually associated with eating raw or undercooked poultry or meat or from cross-contamination of other foods by these items. Other exposures can come from unpasteurized dairy products and contaminated water, produce or animals. Exposure is also possible from person-to-person, although that is less common.

Food Safety News

Letter From the Editor: The ‘New’ School Lunch

For anyone who still gets the printed version of The New York Times, the pretty magazine among all those advertising inserts is worth a read today. It contains a smartly illustrated story entitled, “How School Lunch Became the Latest Political Battleground,” by Nicholas Confessore. It can also be found online here.

Confessore, who was part of a team that won a Pulitzer for covering the downfall of short-time New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, writes about national politics, so for him to tackle school lunches as a topic might seem strange. It’s certainly not as sexy as writing about pricey prostitutes. However, Confessore did recently get married, so maybe he is just thinking ahead about what’s going to be served at a local elementary school.

Believe it or not, I was actually going to share a few lines about school lunches before word came out about the contents of today’s New York Times magazine. As the school year got underway this year, I began noticing that school lunch news at the local level was falling into about four categories. They are not the ones that get much attention in Washington, D.C.

Nevertheless, it’s great that Confessore did his thing because it catches everyone up on the past four years. The illustrations, with dollar values on food items purchased by the National School Lunch Program, fulfill everyone’s needs for factoids. Who knew school lunches cost $ 112 million just for lettuce or $ 41.5 million for bananas?

Confessore hits around the edges of one or two of the four issues making local news. However, he mostly writes in great detail about the legislative maneuvers, lobbyists, and the battling of beltway power players. We don’t stay awake, but believe me, in the imperial capital they eat that stuff up.

The New York Times is one way to follow the school lunch story. The other way, which I prefer, is to read local newspapers that carry school lunch menus. I am the first to admit it is not as sophisticated, but it sure is fresh.

And, reading those newspapers, I think that school lunch stories fall into these four basic categories: schools and students voting with their feet, strapped local school lunch budgets, calorie restrictions, and food waste. I also think it’s fair to stay that you can find local stories about these basic four themes on just about any day of the week.

Everyone being quoted in these local stories agrees that a change to more nutritional menus for school lunches was overdue. But, at the same time, not since the revolt against the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit has opposition been so strong against a federal mandate as we are seeing against the voluntary National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

We know this because people are voting with their feet.

We know that schools are dropping out daily and that fewer students participate daily. At least 1 million students are known to have bailed. Chances are that number is much higher.

Schools cannot keep kids of a certain age on campus. Try this: Go to a grocery or convenience store nearest to a high school or even middle school shortly before noon. Then just observe.

You will first think what I did — that some sort of demonstration or even riot must be underway. In fact, it’s just kids grazing through the shelves because they cannot stomach what their school serves at lunch.

It’s also obvious to anyone who wants to look for it that this new demand has created something of a building boom around schools as new food outlets are opened just off campus. This would be a great study subject for someone.

The second category of stories about local school lunch programs includes the budget stories. Schools that cannot drop out of the NSLP are going through long sessions with their school boards trying to figure out how to square high prices with few customers.

Another interesting study would be to find out how many school districts must now subsidize their school lunch programs with general fund revenue, thereby reducing the money they have available for classroom instruction or that field trip.

Districts that really need the NSLP reimbursements to go deep with free lunches and breakfasts for needy students may be the hardest hit by changes and have the fewest options for how they balance their budgets.

The need for a national fight against obesity gets mentioned most when the local folks start talking about why the NSLP changes are being imposed.

Some kids are fat, and some are skinny. Some are normal or at typically weights for their ages. Mostly what comes up at local schools is why did the NSLP put everyone on the same diet?

What is the obsession with portion control and calorie restrictions? Why the one-size-fits-all fixation (with some twists of the dial noted for grade levels)?

The new school lunch program has a special burden for kids doing after-school athletics and real work, such as “chores,” in rural America. Lean, mean kids who pump iron after school get the same lunch as the fat ones who waddle home in time for their favorite TV show or to play video games.

Finally, stories about food waste connected with the school lunch program boggle the mind. As much 25 to 40 percent of the money spent on school lunches ends up in the garbage, according to various studies.

The Los Angeles Unified Schools serves 650,000 meals each day and students throw out food valued at $ 100,000 a day, or about $ 18 million a year. And these are the district’s own estimates.

Forcing any food on kids that is only going to be thrown away should be against the law. Yet the “force them to take it “ policy is standard operating procedure for the new school lunch program.

The policy should be, eat all of what you take without any forced choices. And starting a “Clean Plate Club” might help.

Food Safety News

Norovirus Suspected as Nearly 130 Children at Indiana School are Sickened

About 130 children were out sick for two days this past week at a northwest Indiana elementary school, and district officials said that Norovirus was most likely to blame.

“Twenty-seven percent of our population is significant, and it’s a concern,” Lake Central School Corporation Assistant Superintendent Al Gandolfi said about Peifer Elementary School in Schererville, IL. The school was being thoroughly cleaned and sanitized by a a large custodial crew.

“We were here into the late evening. We disinfected everything that a child touches, from a keyboard, to a doorknob, to every lunch table, to desks, to chairs,” Gandolfi said.

Officials believe that Norovirus may have spread from a child or teacher who came to school sick. The best way to prevent spreading the virus is to wash your hands vigorously with soap and water, they said.

Contaminated food or beverages at the school were initially suspected as the source since all those sickened had symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea and fever. However, a check of lunch records showed that 39 percent of those who called in sick hadn’t eaten or drank anything from the school the previous day.

While officials with the Lake County Department of Public Health did not confirm that the illnesses came from Norovirus, they did say that the infections were not Enterovirus D68. Norovirus affects the gastrointestinal system and Enterovirus affected both respiratory and GI systems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of Oct. 10, there were currently 691 people from 46 states and Washington, D.C., confirmed with respiratory illnesses caused by D68.

Norovirus easily spreads from person to person via contaminated food or water or by touching contaminated food. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Most people recover within one to three days.

Food Safety News

Stenzel says new poll shows it’s not time to roll back school nutrition standards

WASHINGTON — United Fresh Produce Association Chief Executive Tom Stenzel said a new poll that shows parents overwhelmingly support new school meal standards that require more fruits and vegetables shows it’s not time to roll back the standards in the nation’s schools.

Some 500 produce representatives are in Washington, DC, this week for the group’s annual Washington Conference, and school nutrition standards are on the agenda during a session, “Why fighting for Healthier School Meals is So Important.”

The new poll, released Sept. 8 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association found 91 percent of parents support requiring schools to include a serving of fruits or vegetables with every meal.

The findings come as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Smart Snacks” standards, which took effect July 1, represent the first major update to national guidelines for school snack foods and beverages in more than 30 years. To meet the standards, a snack food must be a fruit, a vegetable, protein, dairy or whole grain; it must have fewer than 200 calories; and it must be low in fat, sodium and sugar.

Similar nutrition standards for school breakfasts and lunches already are in effect, and the USDA said they’re being met by some 90 percent of school districts.

Congressional Republicans, however, have attacked the new standards and are advocating for school districts to opt out of the nutrition overhaul, at least temporarily.

“The new national poll underscores the strong support by parents for the new healthier school meal standards that require more fresh fruits and vegetables,” Stenzel said. “We put our kids’ health first and Congress must continue to do the same. There can be no going back to water down the modest requirement that children take at least one-half cup of fruit or vegetable at breakfast and lunch.”

Stenzel added, “Instead, we should be looking for ways to reach our public health goal of half the plate being fruits and vegetables, not just half a cup.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Stenzel says new poll shows it’s not time to roll back school nutrition standards

WASHINGTON — United Fresh Produce Association Chief Executive Tom Stenzel said a new poll that shows parents overwhelmingly support new school meal standards that require more fruits and vegetables shows it’s not time to roll back the standards in the nation’s schools.

Some 500 produce representatives are in Washington, DC, this week for the group’s annual Washington Conference, and school nutrition standards are on the agenda during a session, “Why fighting for Healthier School Meals is So Important.”

The new poll, released Sept. 8 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association found 91 percent of parents support requiring schools to include a serving of fruits or vegetables with every meal.

The findings come as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Smart Snacks” standards, which took effect July 1, represent the first major update to national guidelines for school snack foods and beverages in more than 30 years. To meet the standards, a snack food must be a fruit, a vegetable, protein, dairy or whole grain; it must have fewer than 200 calories; and it must be low in fat, sodium and sugar.

Similar nutrition standards for school breakfasts and lunches already are in effect, and the USDA said they’re being met by some 90 percent of school districts.

Congressional Republicans, however, have attacked the new standards and are advocating for school districts to opt out of the nutrition overhaul, at least temporarily.

“The new national poll underscores the strong support by parents for the new healthier school meal standards that require more fresh fruits and vegetables,” Stenzel said. “We put our kids’ health first and Congress must continue to do the same. There can be no going back to water down the modest requirement that children take at least one-half cup of fruit or vegetable at breakfast and lunch.”

Stenzel added, “Instead, we should be looking for ways to reach our public health goal of half the plate being fruits and vegetables, not just half a cup.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Whole Foods kicks off school food fundraisers

Whole Foods Market said Monday that its Whole Kids Foundation would seek to raise $ 3 million toward funding salad bars and gardens for schools, and nutrition education for teachers.

The effort is part of the foundation’s annual campaign aimed at raising awareness around the importance of childhood nutrition and helping schools provide healthier food choices for students.

The fundraiser will run throughout September at Whole Foods Market stores, which will will host a variety of educational and interactive fundraising events, the retailer said. Shoppers can get involved by making a donation at store checkouts or online at wholekidsfoundation.org.


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“Well-nourished kids miss fewer days of school and are better able to pay attention in class, improving academic performance, and as Whole Kids Foundation celebrates its third anniversary, we’re excited to see visible results from our work,” said Nona Evans, executive director of Whole Kids Foundation. “School salad bars are getting kids excited about school lunches and eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and school gardens are not only connecting kids to the roots of their food and how nutrition helps their bodies, they are increasing their curiosity around trying new foods.”



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Produce Mom promotes school salad bars on Indy TV

The ever-active “Produce Mom”, Lori Taylor was scheduled to raise awareness for the national school salad bar initiative on live Indianapolis television on Aug. 21. According to a press release on that morning, Taylor was slated for the IndyStyle program on WISH-TV 8.

Taylor is The Produce Mom for The Produce Mom LLC, which is a subsidiary of Indianapolis Fruit Co., Inc.

2014-3-18-1357-Indy-Fruit Participating in a Produce for Better Health event in Scottsdale, AZ, on March 18 were Lori Taylor, The Produce Mom, Indianapolis, and Antonia Mascari, marketing manager of Indianapolis Fruit Co., Inc.The press release noted that to date, 2,800 schools nationwide have received salad bars through the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative. Taylor refers the industry to http://www.saladbars2schools.org/ for information on sponsoring a salad bar.

“Our industry is uniquely positioned to stem the tide of the national health epidemic while inspiring the next generation of produce consumers. The Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative highlights this commitment to combat childhood obesity through improving child nutrition. That’s why I’m honored to be assisting Hilary Martin of Frey Farms, the United Fresh Midwest Salad Bar Captain, in the industry push for salad bar placement in Indiana Schools,” Taylor indicated.

She also noted, “If you’re part of the produce industry, then you probably don’t need to be convinced of the tremendous potential that bringing salad bars to schools has for this country. Salad bars are popular with students and make it easy for schools to serve a wide variety of fresh produce. They empower kids to make their own healthy choices and create excitement about trying new fruits and vegetables.”

 

 

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Produce Mom promotes school salad bars on Indy TV

The ever-active “Produce Mom”, Lori Taylor was scheduled to raise awareness for the national school salad bar initiative on live Indianapolis television on Aug. 21. According to a press release on that morning, Taylor was slated for the IndyStyle program on WISH-TV 8.

Taylor is The Produce Mom for The Produce Mom LLC, which is a subsidiary of Indianapolis Fruit Co., Inc.

2014-3-18-1357-Indy-Fruit Participating in a Produce for Better Health event in Scottsdale, AZ, on March 18 were Lori Taylor, The Produce Mom, Indianapolis, and Antonia Mascari, marketing manager of Indianapolis Fruit Co., Inc.The press release noted that to date, 2,800 schools nationwide have received salad bars through the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative. Taylor refers the industry to http://www.saladbars2schools.org/ for information on sponsoring a salad bar.

“Our industry is uniquely positioned to stem the tide of the national health epidemic while inspiring the next generation of produce consumers. The Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative highlights this commitment to combat childhood obesity through improving child nutrition. That’s why I’m honored to be assisting Hilary Martin of Frey Farms, the United Fresh Midwest Salad Bar Captain, in the industry push for salad bar placement in Indiana Schools,” Taylor indicated.

She also noted, “If you’re part of the produce industry, then you probably don’t need to be convinced of the tremendous potential that bringing salad bars to schools has for this country. Salad bars are popular with students and make it easy for schools to serve a wide variety of fresh produce. They empower kids to make their own healthy choices and create excitement about trying new fruits and vegetables.”

 

 

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

I Love Produce donates money to local Peru village school

I Love Produce, a pioneer in importation of organic ginger from Peru, took part in a new harvest celebration and ceremony to commemorate its donation of $ 13,440 to the local village school called the “Antonio Raymondi” secondary school. The school donation program was initiated by I Love Produce to give back to the local native Asháninka Community of Churingaveni where the ginger is from. The Asháninkas are the second-largest indigenous group living in the rainforests of Peru with a culture that dates back to the time of the Incas.

“The Asháninka rainforest area is one of the most remote places I have ever traveled”, said Jim Provost, president of I Love Produce. “A trip there requires a 10 hour flight to Lima, a 12 hour bus ride from the capital to the village and then a perilous river crossing by raft to reach the school. Because of the remoteness of the area, the school lacks many of the resources we take for granted. Our aim is to form a lasting relationship with the school so we can make a difference to their kids on a long-term basis.”

CheckPeruThe school donation program was set up with I Love Produce’s ginger supplier, Rainforest Organic. The money from this project will support the school library, computer room and other facilities, said school director Jaime Fernández Yoni Cave of Antonio Raymond School.   “For the children this project is a-dream-come-true.”

The harvest ceremony included local traditional clothing, dancing, singing, a feast of local food and drink followed by a spirited game of basketball. A movie of the event can be viewed on company website — iLoveProduce.com.

“The rainforest region of Peru is an ideal place to grow organic ginger because it is virgin land and we only allow ginger to be grown once every six years on the acreage in order for the land to fully recover”, said Guillermo Medina, owner of Rainforest Ginger. “The forest provides everything for the Asháninka. Most Asháninka children attend a primary school and alongside their usual lessons the school children learn how they can contribute to their community and look after the environment. They are taught that it’s their forest and their home. It’s also important that communities can make an income from their forest resources. So together we’re helping the Asháninka to receive training in how to improve the ginger and the land it is grown on, so that they can make a decent living and pass down their skills to the next generation.”

“The good people at Rainforest Organic show a good deal of love and care for the products that they produce,” said Provost. “It shows in the quality of their ginger. New crop Peru ginger is now arriving in the United States and we now have organic and conventional ginger for sale at prices competitive to the Chinese market.   The harvest ceremony was perfect timing because the market has been short of ginger, and is ready for a new supply of good quality, and good value ginger.”

“China has dominated to ginger market for years, but because Chinese ginger prices have increased in recent years, there is a great opportunity for the ginger buyers and consumers in the United States to evaluate the ginger from Peru and get an indication of its value in the market,” Provost added.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

I Love Produce donates money to local Peru village school

I Love Produce, a pioneer in importation of organic ginger from Peru, took part in a new harvest celebration and ceremony to commemorate its donation of $ 13,440 to the local village school called the “Antonio Raymondi” secondary school. The school donation program was initiated by I Love Produce to give back to the local native Asháninka Community of Churingaveni where the ginger is from. The Asháninkas are the second-largest indigenous group living in the rainforests of Peru with a culture that dates back to the time of the Incas.

“The Asháninka rainforest area is one of the most remote places I have ever traveled”, said Jim Provost, president of I Love Produce. “A trip there requires a 10 hour flight to Lima, a 12 hour bus ride from the capital to the village and then a perilous river crossing by raft to reach the school. Because of the remoteness of the area, the school lacks many of the resources we take for granted. Our aim is to form a lasting relationship with the school so we can make a difference to their kids on a long-term basis.”

CheckPeruThe school donation program was set up with I Love Produce’s ginger supplier, Rainforest Organic. The money from this project will support the school library, computer room and other facilities, said school director Jaime Fernández Yoni Cave of Antonio Raymond School.   “For the children this project is a-dream-come-true.”

The harvest ceremony included local traditional clothing, dancing, singing, a feast of local food and drink followed by a spirited game of basketball. A movie of the event can be viewed on company website — iLoveProduce.com.

“The rainforest region of Peru is an ideal place to grow organic ginger because it is virgin land and we only allow ginger to be grown once every six years on the acreage in order for the land to fully recover”, said Guillermo Medina, owner of Rainforest Ginger. “The forest provides everything for the Asháninka. Most Asháninka children attend a primary school and alongside their usual lessons the school children learn how they can contribute to their community and look after the environment. They are taught that it’s their forest and their home. It’s also important that communities can make an income from their forest resources. So together we’re helping the Asháninka to receive training in how to improve the ginger and the land it is grown on, so that they can make a decent living and pass down their skills to the next generation.”

“The good people at Rainforest Organic show a good deal of love and care for the products that they produce,” said Provost. “It shows in the quality of their ginger. New crop Peru ginger is now arriving in the United States and we now have organic and conventional ginger for sale at prices competitive to the Chinese market.   The harvest ceremony was perfect timing because the market has been short of ginger, and is ready for a new supply of good quality, and good value ginger.”

“China has dominated to ginger market for years, but because Chinese ginger prices have increased in recent years, there is a great opportunity for the ginger buyers and consumers in the United States to evaluate the ginger from Peru and get an indication of its value in the market,” Provost added.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

I Love Produce donates money to local Peru village school

I Love Produce, a pioneer in importation of organic ginger from Peru, took part in a new harvest celebration and ceremony to commemorate its donation of $ 13,440 to the local village school called the “Antonio Raymondi” secondary school. The school donation program was initiated by I Love Produce to give back to the local native Asháninka Community of Churingaveni where the ginger is from. The Asháninkas are the second-largest indigenous group living in the rainforests of Peru with a culture that dates back to the time of the Incas.

“The Asháninka rainforest area is one of the most remote places I have ever traveled”, said Jim Provost, president of I Love Produce. “A trip there requires a 10 hour flight to Lima, a 12 hour bus ride from the capital to the village and then a perilous river crossing by raft to reach the school. Because of the remoteness of the area, the school lacks many of the resources we take for granted. Our aim is to form a lasting relationship with the school so we can make a difference to their kids on a long-term basis.”

CheckPeruThe school donation program was set up with I Love Produce’s ginger supplier, Rainforest Organic. The money from this project will support the school library, computer room and other facilities, said school director Jaime Fernández Yoni Cave of Antonio Raymond School.   “For the children this project is a-dream-come-true.”

The harvest ceremony included local traditional clothing, dancing, singing, a feast of local food and drink followed by a spirited game of basketball. A movie of the event can be viewed on company website — iLoveProduce.com.

“The rainforest region of Peru is an ideal place to grow organic ginger because it is virgin land and we only allow ginger to be grown once every six years on the acreage in order for the land to fully recover”, said Guillermo Medina, owner of Rainforest Ginger. “The forest provides everything for the Asháninka. Most Asháninka children attend a primary school and alongside their usual lessons the school children learn how they can contribute to their community and look after the environment. They are taught that it’s their forest and their home. It’s also important that communities can make an income from their forest resources. So together we’re helping the Asháninka to receive training in how to improve the ginger and the land it is grown on, so that they can make a decent living and pass down their skills to the next generation.”

“The good people at Rainforest Organic show a good deal of love and care for the products that they produce,” said Provost. “It shows in the quality of their ginger. New crop Peru ginger is now arriving in the United States and we now have organic and conventional ginger for sale at prices competitive to the Chinese market.   The harvest ceremony was perfect timing because the market has been short of ginger, and is ready for a new supply of good quality, and good value ginger.”

“China has dominated to ginger market for years, but because Chinese ginger prices have increased in recent years, there is a great opportunity for the ginger buyers and consumers in the United States to evaluate the ginger from Peru and get an indication of its value in the market,” Provost added.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Produce industry weighs in at Senate school nutrition hearing

WASHINGTON — Schools that were proactive in improving the healthfulness of school meals before the new nutrition standards went into effect are not having problems complying with the stricter standards or experiencing plate waste, Phil Muir, president and chief executive officer of Muir Copper Canyon Farms in Salt Lake City told a Senate panel on the school nutrition standards.

The only industry representative, Muir, a former United Fresh Produce Association board member, joined a small panel of school nutrition officials who fielded questions during a two-hour hearing July 23 before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

PhilPhil Muir, president and CEO of Muir Copper Canyon Farms and a former United Fresh Produce Association board member, testifying at a July 23 Senate panel on school nutrition standards. (Photo courtesy of United Fresh)Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the powerful Senate panel, said healthier meal options are being well received by school children.  

“I have had the opportunity to visit many schools in Michigan and I have been impressed to see elementary school students enjoying broccoli and pineapple from salad bars, and students learning about where their food comes from through farm-to-school garden efforts,” Stabenow said.

The school nutrition standards, which went into effect July 1, have become polarizing on Capitol Hill ever since the School Nutrition Association began reporting some schools are struggling to meet the new standards and more children are dumping their trays of food rather than eating healthier meals.

SNA complained at the hearing of a decline in school lunch participation since schools began implementing the new requirements and that, for example, schools are having difficulty finding appealing tortillas, biscuits and crackers that meet the new whole grain-rich test.

“Food companies serving the school nutrition industry have worked hard to introduce new foods that  meet the standards and student tastes, but some of these products are simply not available or  affordable for all districts, especially small and rural districts,” said Julia Bauscher, SNA president and director of school and community nutrition services for Kentucky’s Jefferson County Public Schools.

But Muir painted a different picture from a distributor’s point of view after providing fresh produce to 52 rural and urban school districts in Utah, Idaho and western Wyoming, and three Indian reservations in Utah and Idaho.

“We consider ourselves more than just a supplier or bid winner — we are a partner with our school customers,” he said. “Our goal is to be a solution provider through information, training and consultation assisting schools to successfully implement all of the new fruit and vegetable requirements.”

He recounted some of his observations: Schools that made incremental changes are having an easier time complying with the new regulation, and schools with the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program are successfully implementing the new nutrition standards because they have already introduced their students to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The director of food services for Detroit Public Schools, Betti Wiggins, said change is not easy, but that she’s been able to work with food distributors, farmers and others to feed high-quality meals to some 50,000 school children each day. Nine out of 10 school districts already comply with the law, she noted.

 “Change is always a little difficult and, in this case, it’s well worth the effort,” Stabenow said in closing the July 23 hearing.

United continues to be a leading advocate for improving school children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables through a variety of strategies, including more healthful standards for school meals, the Smart Snacks in School standard, the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program and the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative.

Additionally, Muir and other United Fresh members participated in United’s first-ever “Ask the Experts: Produce Solutions Center” at the School Nutrition Association annual conference, held July 13-16 in Boston.

The center brought produce industry veterans together with school nutrition directors from across the country for discussions about ways to provide a wide variety of high-quality produce items to students. United also presented two educational workshops at the conference to help school nutrition directors plan menus, understand seasonality and efficiently add more fresh produce to their schools’ meals.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.