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Alabama celebrates national school lunch week

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From: The Alabama Department of Education;

This week, the nation and Alabama celebrate National School Lunch Week to showcase the best of food throughout America and the innovative ways local Alabama schools are offering foods to their students. With over 86 percent of breakfasts, 69 percent of lunches and 91 percent of all snacks offered as "free" or "reduced," students in Alabama are utilizing the USDA National School Lunch program. Over 94 million lunches were served in the 2011-2012 school year. 15,000 additional breakfasts were served this August when compared to last August.

In order to ensure students are receiving healthy and delicious lunches, the Child Nutrition Section of the Alabama State Department of Education works frequently with local districts, offering training and other resources. Local districts are learning to cook more homemade foods from school gardens and local farms and serve less processed foods. 

Examples of Local School Innovation and Initiative:

  • Madison City Schools – With their own Farm to School Program, Madison City Schools brings in new foods for the children while also supporting local farmers.
  • Sylacauga City Schools – Pinecrest Elementary, a recent recipient of the USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award of Distinction, has partnered with master gardener Bill Roberts to create the "Vegetation Station." The new school garden provides health and nutrition education, hands-on gardening techniques and cooking experiences for students. Students at Pinecrest recently planted cabbages and turnips and are also tending to the growth of tomato plants.
  • Geneva County Schools- Geneva County Elementary, also a recent recipient of the USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award of Distinction, has an on-site vegetable and fruit garden, which offers food to the schools' students.
  • Coffee County Schools- Zion Chapel School's Agriscience Department has implemented a school garden behind the school. The crops included onions, collards, turnips, and more. Each day the vegetables are served, the principal announces it on the intercom during morning announcements. Cafeteria workers post signs and pictures on top of the serving line announcing the garden vegetables.  

 Showing its dedication and innovation to healthy eating, Alabama is leading the nation in the number of schools that are designated as Gold Award of Distinction winners by the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC).  

More than 75 Alabama elementary and secondary schools are now on the prestigious USDA Food and Nutrition Service list of schools receiving top HUSSC honors for creating healthier school environments through promotion of nutrition and physical activity. In addition, nearly 200 Alabama public schools have earned the HealthierUS School designation since the program began in 2004, including every school within the Mobile County School System.  

The state's child nutrition directors and program coordinators have made a concerted effort to educate children and their parents that snacks don't have to come from foods that are high in sugar, fat, and artificial additives.  

Other efforts to promote healthy eating habits in K-12 public schools across the state include breakfast carts or "Grab ‘N' Go" kiosks near the drop-off point for school buses and areas where students are likely to congregate before classes start. School lunch options also include a wide selection of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 

For more information on meals served in Alabama schools, please contact the Child Nutrition Section at 334-242-8228 or visit CNP Frequently Asked Questions.

 

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