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Most Parents Support Healthier School Food Standards

healthy snack bookmarkA recent report indicates that most parents are supportive of healthier school food standards…

The vast majority of parents of school-age children support strong national nutrition standards for all foods and beverages sold to students during school, according to a new poll by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the American Heart Association.

The findings come as school districts implement the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards. The standards set basic limits on the fat, salt, and calories in foods and beverages sold through vending machines, school stores, and a la carte cafeteria menus.

Full infographic and poll results »

Learning ZoneXpress has a range of products that help students make the connection between healthy options at school and encouraging health options at home, such as the Healthy Snack Bookmark!

August is National Breastfeeding Month: Remember Nutrition

August is National Breastfeeding Month. According to Women’s Health,

Research suggests that breastfed babies have lower risks of:

  • Asthma

  • Childhood leukemia

  • Childhood obesity

  • Ear infections

  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis)

  • Diarrhea and vomiting

  • Lower respiratory infections

  • Necrotizing (nek-roh-TEYE-zing) enterocolitis (en-TUR-oh-coh-lyt-iss), a disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract in pre-term infants

  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

  • Type 2 diabetes

But that’s not all, breastfeeding also improves health of the mother, it lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes, certain types of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Mothers can increase the health benefits by focusing on a healthy diet as they breastfeed. USDA MyPlate has created a recipe designed especially to help mother keep healthy and they make it easy because new mothers know, there’s plenty to do and keeping it simple helps.

breastfeedingLearning ZoneXpress has a wide range of nutrition education materials that promote healthy decision making – including a range of nutrition materials for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Such as…

MyPlate for Breastfeeding Moms Handouts

Women have special nutritional needs during breastfeeding. The MyPlate for Breastfeeding Moms Handout Tablet is a dietary guide based on USDA MyPlate recommendations to help women who are breastfeeding eat a healthy, balanced diet that supports the baby’s needs and helps mom return to her pre-pregnancy weight. The plan shows amounts of food needed from each food group based on whether the mother is breastfeeding only or breastfeeding and giving formula. The backside of the handout addresses the importance of hydration and fluid requirements, weight loss while breastfeeding, food safety, and the benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby. 8 1/2″ x 11″, 50 sheets, 2-sided

© 2013 Learning ZoneXpress

Item # 470198

UPC: 846742003943

Price: $9.95 


Youth Service Organizations Supported with Grants

From our friends at GrantStation

Youth Service Organizations Supported
Youth Service America: Global Youth Service Day Lead Agency Program
Youth Service America (YSA) is a resource center that partners with organizations committed to increasing the quality and quantity of volunteer opportunities for young people to serve locally, nationally, and globally. YSA’s Global Youth Service Day Lead Agency Program offers organizations support to lead high-impact, high-visibility youth service activities and celebration events during Global Youth Service Day, April 17-19, 2015. Lead Agencies will receive a planning grant of $1,000 to $3,000 funded by State Farm, capacity-building training, and ongoing consultation. Typically, Lead Agencies are local, regional, or statewide nonprofit organizations with a focus on youth development and positive community engagement. Nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and the provinces of Alberta, Ontario, and New Brunswick in Canada are eligible to apply. The application deadline is July 31, 2014. Visit the YSA website to learn more about the program.

Earn an LZX gift certificate by supporting women health workers in Kenya

We are asking you to look into your heart and help us support a program (HFAW) that will make a difference in the lives of so many women, children and men in Kenya. Please consider a donation to help train 30 women and men in poor, rural Kenya to be strong health and human rights promoters tin their communities.

To encourage you to support the effort, Learning ZoneXpress will offer a $15 gift certificate to the first 50 people who donate $10 and Tweet about the donation tagging @lxzpress. (The funding round ends June 29.)

This is what you need to do:

  1. Have a Twitter account
  2. Donate $10 (or more!) to the project here
  3. Once the transaction is complete, you can Tweet about your donation through the website. Be sure to add @lzxpress to the Tweet so that we see it
  4. We will then ask you to send us contact info and we will send you a $15 gift certificate

More about the Project

HFAW will train 30 rural poor women (and men) to be strong health and human rights promoters through a six month pilot training in transformative strategies based on popular education which has been highly effective in Chile (via EPES Foundation) changing the lives of poor women. HFAW focuses on reproductive health and human rights as critical step to break the epidemic discrimination against women. The methods empowers women to fight for change and includes a few supportive men to fight backlash.

The Learning ZoneXpress Connection

Promoting worldwide health and human rights – especially for women and children – is a passion for Learning ZoneXpress founder Melanie Nelson. Melanie has worked hard to help make that happen through her volunteer work with (and generous donations to) EPES – an acronym for Educacion Popular en Salud which can be translated into Popular Education for Health. It is a program that focuses on empowering shantytown women to make changes in domestic violence, tobacco control, breast cancer, HIV awareness, and more recently, nutrition education.

Food trucks for food deserts

We love this idea happening in our home state, as reported by the line media

A recent city-ordinance change has paved the way for mobile grocery stores. Now the Wilder Foundation’s Twin Cities Mobile Market, a repurposed Metro Transit bus that cost the foundation just over $6,000, can distribute fresh produce on St. Paul’s East Side and the North Side of Minneapolis.

Both neighborhoods are considered “food deserts” because the corner shops and independent markets that provide residents with groceries lack fresh produce and other wholesome items.

It’s an affordable way to bring good food to deserving neighborhoods!

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Kicks off the 2014 “Feds Feed Families” Nationwide Food Drive

Great idea – worth sharing in the education and private sector!

WASHINGTON, June 2, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today kicked off the 6th annual Feds Feed Families Campaign at the USDA Headquarters in Washington D.C. The food drive is an annual event in which Federal employees in the Washington metropolitan area and around the country collect food for distribution by food banks, food pantries, and shelters.

“The spirit of service runs deep across the Federal government. Feds Feed Families offers another opportunity to give back to our communities and serve our neighbors in need,” said Vilsack. “Since the initiative began just five years ago, Federal employees have donated more than 24 million pounds of food. I am proud to serve alongside such generous individuals and I am confident that we will step up once again this year.”

Secretary Vilsack was joined for the announcement by U.S. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, Nancy E. Roman, CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank and other officials from the Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Feds Feed Families program started in 2009 and has been managed on an annual basis by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. This year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is once again leading the effort in collaboration with managers from agencies across the government. The 2014 food drive officially began on June 2 and will run through August 27.

All Federal agencies across the country participate in the campaign and Federal employees are asked to donate non-perishable food items throughout the summer. As in prior years, donations made in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area go to food banks in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia through a partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank. Other donations go to food banks across the country – having a positive impact to help food banks address food insecurity. Secretary Vilsack noted that the latest USDA estimates show that in 2012, food insecurity affected 14.5 percent of American households at some point.

USDA has designated Karen Comfort of its Agricultural Marketing Service as the Feds Feeds Families National Program Manager. Comfort will manage the campaign with the support of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council and other agency partners. Those interested in additional information on the Feds Feed Families campaign can email Questions can also be directed by phone to (202) 690-0187.

The Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB), founded in 1980, is a member of Feeding America and takes a comprehensive approach to addressing hunger by increasing access to nutritious food, initiating change through skill-building and creating sustainability with outreach and training for those at risk of hunger. The CAFB is the metro area’s largest public, nonprofit food and nutrition education resource. For more information about hunger and nutrition issues, log on to

For more information on the Feds Feed Families campaign, please visit:

Results of the Healthy-Hunger Free Kids Act

We’re pleased to share the following from the USDA…

FACT SHEET: Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act School Meals Implementation

Congress passed the Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010 with bipartisan support to help ensure every American child had access to the nutrition they need to grow into healthy adults. One goal of the law was to help reduce America’s childhood obesity epidemic and reduce health risks for America’s children by helping schools across the country produce balanced meals so children had access to healthy foods during the school day. USDA based the new school meal standards on independent, expert recommendations from the Institute of Medicine to ensure kids are being fed healthy food while they are at school.

Results of the Healthy-Hunger Free Kids Act school meals provision to date include:

  • Kids are eating more fruits and vegetables as a result of updated standards. A recent Harvard study has concluded that, under the updated standards, kids are now eating 16 percent more vegetables and 23 percent more fruit at lunch.
  • Over 90 percent of schools report that they are successfully meeting the updated nutrition standards. Students across the country are experiencing a healthier school environment with more nutritious options. The new meals are providing children more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy, as well as less sugar, fat, and sodium.
  • School lunch revenue is up. Despite concerns raised about the impact of new standards on participation and costs, a USDA analysis suggests that in the first year of implementing updated meal patterns, schools saw a net nationwide increase in revenue from school lunches of approximately $200 million. This includes the annual reimbursement rate adjustments, as well as increased revenue from paid meals and the additional 6 cents per meal for schools meeting the new meal standards.
  • Healthy food standards have not increased food waste. While reducing plate waste at schools, homes and workplaces continues to be a priority for USDA, a recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health showed that new school meal standards did not result in increased food waste.
  • Participation is increasing substantially in many areas of the country. USDA has received reports from many schools indicating a positive response to healthier offerings and increased participation. Examples include Los Angeles, Dallas, and some of Florida’s largest school districts. In fact, Los Angeles Unified-one of the nation’s largest school districts-has seen a 14% increase in participation under the new meal standards. As more kids and schools continue to successfully make the transition to the new standards, USDA expects participation to keep climbing.
  • HHFKA has led to participation increases within many schools. The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) under the HHFKA has been successfully implemented in almost 4,000 schools in early adopting States. More than 600 school districts across 11 States have at least one school participating in CEP. The evaluation results demonstrate that participating schools were able to increase participation in their meals programs, and as well as experience revenue gains and decreased administrative costs.
  • Virtually all schools continue to participate. Data from states indicated very few schools (only 0.15% of schools nationwide) reported dropping out of the programs due to struggles over providing kids healthy food. State agencies reported that the schools no longer participating in the NSLP were mainly residential child care institutions and smaller schools with very low percentages of children eligible for free and reduced price meals.
  • USDA has and will continue to listen to stakeholders and provide guidance and flexibilities, as appropriate, to help schools and students adapt to the updated requirements. Early in the implementation process for school meals, when schools asked for flexibility to serve larger servings of grains and proteins within the overall calorie caps, USDA responded. In January of this year, that flexibility was made permanent. USDA is also phasing other requirements in over the next several years. And hearing schools concerns on the lack of availability of whole grain pasta, USDA is allowing schools that have demonstrated difficulty in obtaining adequate whole grain pasta to use traditional pastas for an additional two years while industry works to create better whole grain pasta products.
  • USDA is helping schools encourage kids to choose new healthier options. Most recently, the Department announced $5.5 million in new grants to support Smarter Lunchrooms, a broad toolkit of easy-to-implement, low-cost, evidence-based strategies that increase consumption of healthier foods and decrease plate waste.
  • USDA is supporting numerous training sessions in conjunction with our partners to help schools implement the updated meal standards and prepare for Smart Snacks. USDA has completed seven sessions with various audiences since the rule was published, and additional training is planned for the rest of the year. The Department has made in-person trainings at 16 school professional organization meetings and have tree more scheduled this spring and summer.
  • USDA is supporting implementation of the updated school meals standards and new Smart Snacks standards through a variety of additional methods. Recent actions include: In February, USDA announced the availability of up to $5 million through the Farm to School grant program to increase the amount of healthy, local food in schools. In FY13, USDA awarded grants to 71 projects spanning 42 states and the District of Columbia. USDA awarded $5.6 million in grants in FY2013 to provide training and technical assistance for child nutrition foodservice professionals and support stronger school nutrition education programs, and plans to award additional grants in FY 2014. In April, USDA awarded $25 million in grants to help schools purchase kitchen equipment that will help them provide healthier school meals. USDA is partnering with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to provide an online product calculator for Smart Snacks. The newest version of the calculator was released on April 7 and included a beverage module. This product calculator will assist all stakeholders in easily identifying food and beverage products that meet the new standards.

Healthy Holiday Reminder: Use a Food Thermometer!

Some healthy advice for you and your family from the USDA

cooking fundamentalsEnjoy Your Holiday Weekend – Use a Food Thermometer!

Posted by Alexandra Tarrant, Public Affairs Specialist, on May 23, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Those of you who follow the news have probably seen the recall this week of ground beef that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

Understandably, this causes concern among consumers. However, this does not mean you can’t enjoy a hamburger off the grill or that you need to cancel your backyard BBQ. You can still enjoy your Memorial Day weekend cookout, just remember to practice safe food handling! And if the cooking is to be done by your “weekends only” cook, make sure you take the time to educate him or her about these important steps.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) reminds all cooks to follow four simple tips—clean, separate, cook and chill—for a safe cookout. Additional safe food handling and cooking tips are available at the Grill it Safe website.

Clean and Separate Preparation begins long before your guests arrive. Wash your hands, cutting boards and utensils with warm soapy water before handling food. To prevent cross contamination, raw meat products should be separated from other food items. Also, use different knives, cutting boards, and platters during preparation of these products.

Always keep meat products chilled until the grill is ready. Thaw meat completely to ensure meat cooks evenly on the grill. If you choose to use a marinade, do not reuse the marinade liquids that have been in contact with the raw meat later on a cooked dish.

Cook All foodborne bacteria are killed when foods are heated to the proper temperature. FSIS reminds cooks to use a meat thermometer to ensure meat reaches the safe internal temperature.

  • Ground beef and other ground meat—160 °F,
  • Hot dogs—165 °F or until steaming hot,
  • Poultry—165 °F,
  • Whole cuts of pork, lamb, veal and beef—145 °F (followed by a three-minute rest time), and
  • Fish—145 °F.

Some popular side dishes like cold cuts, prepared salads (such as chicken salad or egg salad), and soft cheeses purchased at a deli are not typically reheated. These foods pose a risk of contamination with Listeria monocytogenes—bacteria that can grow at normal refrigerator temperatures. Most healthy people rarely contract listeriosis, but it can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in people in at-risk groups, including people with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, infants, and the elderly. If you or your guests fall into any of the at-risk categories, these food products should be avoided or reheated until hot and steamy (165 °F) to ensure food safety.

Chill After the table is set and the feasting begins, do not let your guard down. Bacteria grow most rapidly between 40 °F and 140 °F. To limit bacterial growth, keep hot food on the grill and place cold food in a cooler or ice bath. Never let perishable food sit out for more than two hours. If the outdoor temperature exceeds 90 °F, food should not sit out more than one hour. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly and discard any food that has been sitting out too long.

By following these simple tips, you have peace of mind that you are serving your family and friends safe and healthy foods

Celebrating Older Americans Month with great health tips

May is older Americans month. It’s a great time to focus on the older folks around us, to thank them for their support and their wisdom. And what better way to show them that we care than by introducing them to health care ideas especially developed for older people to help them continue to get older, while maybe feeling a little younger. (Also a goof reminder to all of us to think about our health – after all we want to be getting older while feeling younger too.)

Learning ZoneXpress has a range of products especially designed to promote healthy choices for seniors…

Handouts such as…

keeping hydrated for older adults

Brochures such as…

brain health tri-fold brochures

Posters such as…

diabetes myplate handouts

And games…

chair activity bingo

  • Chair Activity Bingo
  • Encourage physical activity without having to g…
  • Item # 511013
  • Price: $39.95

These are great for hospitals, healthcare centers, nursing home and other facilities even public health centers.


Science, Democracy, and a Healthy Food Policy

Looks like a great event and it will be available via live webcast…

The Union of Concerned Scientists is having a public forum at the University of Minnesota on May 6th. This unique evening will be a one-time opportunity to join leading experts and advocates and engaged citizens throughout the country to explore how science can be a more valuable tool in advancing healthier food environments for communities nationwide. Invite and RSVP info is below:

Science, Democracy, and a Healthy Food Policy

A Lewis M. Branscomb Forum

Date: Tuesday, May 6

Time: 4:30-7:00 p.m. CDT (5:30- 8 p.m. EDT), with reception to follow

Location: UMN Humphrey School of Public Affairs Conference Center, Minneapolis, MN,

or via live webcast

Secure your spot today— click here to RSVP here and view the program and presenter lineup, which includes:

  • Mindy Kurzer, Chair, Minnesota Food Charter Steering Committee
  • Don Shelby , Former WCCO-TV anchor (moderating)
  • Michele Simon, Public Health Lawyer; Author of Eat, Drink, Politics
  • R.T. Rybak, former Mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota

Join this dynamic discussion to learn about the latest science-informed policy solutions from distinguished experts and attendees and share effective strategies and tools for public engagement that can improve our food systems.

Today, our nation’s food policies are largely not being informed by scientific evidence that can help guide us to safe and healthy food systems, and the consequences are dangerous.  Yet as we struggle to help shape a national healthy food environment, there is a lot we can learn from states and localities leading the charge toward healthier, safer, and more sustainable food environments. It is time for effective local efforts to be recognized and replicated, and for scientists and other experts to become more active and valued partners in the advancing the movement toward a healthier food system.

Join us to hear and contribute your thoughts and experiences to this critical conversation. For any questions about the event, email Danielle