Farm to School Grant Program Funds Available

farm to schoolWe’ve seen a great interest from customers in Farm to School programs. They are a great way to support local economy and nutrition and get kids interested in nutrition and healthy choices. The USDA recently announced a grant program to support Farm to School programs

On February 19, 2014, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of federal funds for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Farm to School Grant Program. See the press release here.

FY 2015 Request for Applications (pdf)

FY 2015 Request for Applications (doc)

Program Description

The purpose of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program is to assist eligible entities in implementing farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools. On an annual basis, USDA awards up to $5 million in competitive grants for training, supporting operations, planning, purchasing equipment, developing school gardens, developing partnerships, and implementing farm to school programs. New in FY 2015, USDA will make approximately an additional $500,000 available to eligible entities to support conferences, trainings, and events focused on farm to school program development. In this funding round, USDA is soliciting applications for four types of grants:

  1. Planning grants are intended for school districts or schools just starting to incorporate farm to school program elements into their operations.
  1. Implementation grants are intended for school districts or schools to help scale or further develop existing farm to school initiatives.
  1. Support Service grants are intended for state and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, agricultural producers or groups of agricultural producers, and non-profit entities working with school districts or schools to further develop existing farm to school initiatives and to provide broad reaching support services to farm to school initiatives.

Proposals for planning, implementation, and support service grants are due at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, April 30, 2014. A 25% cash or in-kind match of the total project cost is required.

  1. Conference/Event grants are open to all interested parties. They are intended to support conferences, events and trainings that strengthen farm to school supply chains, or conferences, events and trainings that provide technical assistance in the area of local procurement, food safety, culinary education and integration of agriculture‐based curriculum.

Letters of Intent for Conference/Event grants are due at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, April 2, 2014.

Important Dates and Deadlines

  • February 19, 2014: Request for Applications Released
  • April 2, 2014: Conference/Event Letters of Intent due via email (11:59 p.m. Eastern Time)
  • April 30, 2014: Planning, Implementation, and Support service proposals due via (11:59 p.m. Eastern Time)
  • November 2014: Awards Announced and Funds Available (pending the availability of federal funds)
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Let’s Move into the kitchen and improve family cooking skills

Earlier this month, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to the Partnership for a Healthier America’s “Building a Healthier Future” Summit. She announced that Let’s Move! will focus on helping families start cooking again…

“And cooking isn’t just good for our budgets or our physical health, it’s also good for our kids’ emotional health. Research shows that when families share meals together, kids actually perform better in school, and they get along better with their peers. And let’s not forget that cooking together can actually be fun.”

We think this is exciting news and couldn’t agree more. Encouraging families to be more active was a first step in improving health and wellbeing – encouraging them to cook nutritious meals together is the next logical step and Learning ZoneXpress has a range of tools that will help get them started. Many of these tools are designed for a classroom setting – from a FACS classroom to community education. They are designed to help families make smart decisions together – so that they make the most of the their time, budget and calories. We’ll try to preview more of these products in the upcoming weeks, but wanted to share a quick list today…

Culinary and cooking videos:

3521 Kitchen Fundamentals DVD

300034 Cooking Fundamentals DVD

300024 Amazing Eggs DVD

300016 Fresh Ingredients: Healthy International Food Tips DVD

3502-DVD Herbs & Spices DVD

300030 Small Kitchen Appliances DVD

300015 Cooking and Children… A Learning Activity DVD

Culinary and baking lessons:

Meal planning, grocery shopping, and eating on a budget:

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Movie Monday: Portion Distortion Banners Bright Colors for Visual Learners

Portion Distortion Banners Bright Colors for Visual Learners 

Learning ZoneXpress designs a range of colorful posters and banners for visual learners on nutrition education topics such as portion distortion. The banner and posters are great for classrooms, lunchroom, waiting room — anyplace where you want to help students, patents and families pick up healthy lifestyles and good nutrition habits.

Visit the Learning ZoneXpress website for more ideas.

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New Product Announcement: Smart Snacks in School Handouts

Learning ZoneXpress is pleased to unveil one of our newest education nutrition products –

Smart Snacks in School Handouts

Smart Snacks in School HandoutsEducate parents, students, school staff, and other stakeholders about new “competitive food” standards in schools as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 with the Smart Snacks in School Handouts. This handout highlights the changes being made to school vending, a la carte lines, and other foods sold at school by comparing foods before and after the regulations, reasons behind the changes, times that the rules are in effect, and explains beverage requirements.

8 1/2” x 11”, 50 sheets, 2-sided

© 2014 Learning ZoneXpress

Item # 470161

UPC: 846742004902

Price: $9.95 

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What is Fresh Feature Friday?

We read about Fresh Feature Friday in the USDA Blog and though it was too clever not to share…

It’s not every day that I get the opportunity to hang out with a group of cool elementary school students.  Which is why I was so excited for the chance to spend a few hours at J.C. Nalle Elementary School in Southeast Washington, D.C. You see, it was “Fresh Feature Friday” and D.C. Central Kitchen was coordinating a taste test to see which type of spinach the students like best. “Fresh Feature Friday” is their way of getting kids to try healthy new foods while improving student nutrition and decreasing school food waste.

What a great way to get kids to try new foods!


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Movie Monday: How can we make balanced nutrition fun?

How can we make balanced nutrition fun?

It’s a question asked by most of our customers — from FACS teachers, culinary teachers, science teachers and food service professionals.

For little kids we have a fun collection of stuffed fruits and vegetables — the Garden Heroes. These plush toys are soft and small and kids love ‘em. Often that love transfers to living the fruit or vegetable itself.

For older kids we’ve come up with a game that gets them thinking and having fun — the 1 Great Plate Game. It’s an educational game that helps students build a healthy plate and make it great with food choices from all five food groups. The 1 Great Plate Game makes finding and building MyPlate meal combinations fun! Players are challenged to construct a healthy, nutritionally balanced plate with a fruit, vegetable, grain, protein, and dairy using food portion cards.

Games are geared for students of all ages.

The game includes:

  • 1- 50-sheet tear-off game board that players can enter their calorie requirements on. The flip side features MyPlate tips and activities
  • 95 laminated food portion cards with corresponding nutrition information on backside similar to National Dairy Council food models.
  • Game instruction sheet with bonus game and activity ideas, master list, and USDA calorie level chart
  • For an added twist we’ve heard FACS teachers have had great success using the game in with lower grade buddies. So FACS students visit lower grades to introduce and explain the MyPlate to their junior colleagues and test what they have learned by challenging them to a game of 1 Great Plate!
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New Product Announcement: Physical Activity Tri-Fold Brochures

Learning ZoneXpress is pleased to unveil one of our newest education nutrition products –

Physical Activity Tri-Fold Brochures

Physical Activity Tri-Fold BrochuresFind motivation to get up and get moving with tips and suggestions found in the Physical Activity Tri-Fold Brochure. This educational wellness brochure includes pointers for increasing daily physical activity and the benefits to your body.

The physical activity pamphlet addresses the importance of exercise, how much is needed each day, and identifies the difference between moderate and vigorous activities. The brochure also explains the four different types of exercise including aerobic, muscle strengthening, bone strengthening, and balance and stretching.

This tri-fold brochure is a part of the A Healthy Habit® series of easy-to-read nutrition education pamphlets for the doctor’s office, healthcare clinic, classroom, or workplace.

50 copies
8 1/2” x 11”, tri-fold

© 2014 Learning ZoneXpress

Item # 210213

UPC: 846742004957

Price: $16.95

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The FDA is investigating changes to Food Labels

Read Food Labels PamphletThe Food and Drug Administration is looking into changing how they label foods. One of the biggest changes is more realistic measurements – for example, they now give nutritional information on 20 ounces of soda on a 20-ounce bottle, rather than listing information for 8 ounce servings. After all, if you have purchased a 20 ounce bottle, you probably plan to drink 20 ounces. It makes perfect sense. Also there are just some small changes that make the labels easier to read – bigger letters and better organization.

CNN details some of the nutritional changes…

The proposed labels would remove the “calories from fat” line you currently see on labels, focusing instead on total calories found in each serving. Nutritionists have come to understand that the type of fat you’re eating matters more than the calories from fat. As such, the breakdown of total fat vs. saturated and trans fat would remain.

Put down that doughnut: FDA takes on trans fat

The proposed labels would also note how much added sugar is in a product. Right now, it’s hard to know what is naturally occurring sugar and what has been added by the manufacturer.

“Now when Americans pull a product from the supermarket shelf, they will have a clear idea of how much sugar that product really contains,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said.

The changes aren’t a sure thing yet – it’s still in the works, but we wanted to send a heads up…

With this announcement, the FDA has opened a 90-day comment period, during which experts and members of the public can provide input on the proposed rules. The FDA will then issue a final rule. Officials said they hope to complete the process this year.

Manufacturing companies will then have two years to implement the changes.

Nutrition labels have remained pretty much the same for decades. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that most food labels listed any nutrition information.

We’re keeping an eye on the changes and are already working on researching updates to our range of products on reading food labels. We’ll be sure to post any updates we learn about.

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Movie Monday: School Breakfast Benefits stickers.

Learning ZoneXpress has a wide range of learning materials that speak to the importance of breakfast. Well and the importance of a healthy breakfast — as adults, teachers, public health care workers, we understand the difference between a balanced MyPlate breakfast that features fruit and vegetables, whole grains and protein and a quick bite of yesterday’s pizza. We have materials that help kids recognize the difference too.

We’ve also worked on incentives that will help make younger kids feel good about having a healthy school breakfast — with our set of School Breakfast Benefits stickers. The stickers carry one of four messages:

  • Achieve More with School Breakfast
  • Power Up with School Breakfast
  • Test Your Best with School Breakfast
  • Wake Up to School Breakfast

The stickers come 200 to a roll. And while they are designed for early grade school and elementary age students — we’ve found that all students enjoy them.

In the short term it simply provides an added incentive to enjoy breakfast — something fun to bring the students into the school lunch room early for a healthy breakfast. In the long term, to help students recognize the actual benefits of a healthy breakfast.

We have found that many school cafeterias have added these stickers to their new school breakfast standards plans. The school starts with a letter home to students describing the benefits of school breakfast — aimed at the parents. They include colorful poster or other messages in the school lunch rooms and seal the deal with these color stickers. That way the messages get to both students and parents.

Check out the stickers for yourself!

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FDA Summer Professional Development Program for Teachers

promoting-facs-guideA Fantastic Summer Opportunity for Science, Health, and Family and Consumer Science Teachers

Foodborne disease outbreaks and food recalls frequent the news. What organisms cause these diseases? What can an individual do to protect themselves from these diseases? What measures are being taken by the federal government to prevent transmission of these diseases?

Science, health, and family and consumer science teachers have an opportunity to provide inquiry-based lessons related to these outbreaks and recalls.  Lessons can be found in the curriculum Science and Our Food Supply developed jointly by FDA and NSTA. And, in order to prepare teachers to use these lessons, FDA provides a free multidimensional professional development program that will take place July 20 – 27, 2014 in Washington, DC. Included in the program are transportation to and from Washington and all housing and meal expenses.

During the program, selected teachers will participate in activities such as the following – meet with FDA and USDA scientists to learn about their current research on foodborne diseases; work with instructors at the microbiology lab at the University of Maryland to learn proper techniques to use in doing microbiology labs with their own students; and, tour USDA’s farm in Beltsville, MD.

Selected teachers are asked to implement the curriculum in their classrooms during the 2014 – 2015 school year and to do a workshop on the curriculum for other teachers.  All of the teachers will attend an Enhancement Training during the NSTA area conference in Long Beach, CA on December 4 – 6, 2014 – again, all expenses paid.

To apply on line – deadline April 25, 2014 – go to:

Our middle level and high school teacher guides are currently being revised. If you would like a PDF of either or both 2007 guides, just let me know and I will be glad to send either or both to you. We strongly suggest you review the guide before applying for the summer workshop.

For more information or to request the guides, contact Mimi Cooper at<>.

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