Team Up for Success! USDA and Partners Help Secure a Healthier School Day

A great opportunity from the USDA…

Team Up for Success! USDA and Partners Help Secure a Healthier School Day

With kids now back in the classroom, USDA wants to help schools continue to build a healthier, more nutritious environment for their students.  At the same time, we’re deeply committed to ensuring these same schools maintain financial stability and strong student participation in their meal programs.  We’re seeing more and more schools move forward with new and innovative healthy school meals, but we also understand there is a need to share best practices across the country.

Thanks to our partners at the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI), we hope to fill that void.  To make this a reality, the group will pilot the Team Up For Success Training Initiative with the assistance of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Southeast Regional Office.  Together, they’ll work with school food authorities (SFAs) to identify challenges and provide nuanced resources to promote a healthier school day.

Through the initiative, schools will participate in an expense-paid, tailored training workshop followed up by peer-to-peer mentoring.  This allows schools to address their individual needs and resources, as many face unique challenges and obstacles.  The target technical assistance will be conducted with about 48 SFAs, to begin within eight weeks after plan approval.

An important component of the training will include a two-day workshop for attendees with the appropriate support from allied partners.  These partners and mentors with relevant experience and resources in the identified needs areas will contribute their know-how and guidance.  Topics will likely cover a scope of needs: menu planning, financial management, procurement, meal presentation and appeal, as well as youth engagement tactics.  During the workshop, SFAs will develop an action plan for continuous improvement.

The schools’ relationship with the initiative won’t end there.  NFSMI will conduct a three, six and 12-month follow-up progress survey with SFAs to gauge whether their action plans as well as their peer-to-peer mentoring has been successful.  If additional training is need, NFSMI will recommend options.  The State agencies and FNS will also provide support and feedback to ensure the pilot’s success.

A key goal of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is to help reduce America’s childhood obesity epidemic and reduce health risks for America’s children.  To accomplish this, USDA and our vital partners help schools across the country produce balanced meals, so their children have nutritious opportunities throughout the school day.  For more information to latest regulations, find free nutrition education curricula, or get ideas for adding tasty, kid-friendly foods to enhance your school meals program, please visit Healthier School Day, Tools For Schools.

Ensuring the over 30 million American children that participate in our school meals program have access to healthy meals is a USDA priority.  Yet we’re equally dedicated to making sure schools that serve them have a viable path to meet that goal.  Initiatives like Team Up For Success chart that course, offering a beeline to a healthier next generation.

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Congrats to FACS Teacher Denise Lage – 2015 Teacher of the Year

promoting-facs-guideWe are so pleased to learn that Denise Lage will be the 2015 teacher of the year. Learning ZoneXpress Founder Melanie Nelson was proud to support Denise’s nomination. It’s exciting to see our friend and neighbor get the recognition she has earned through 28 years of amazing teaching.

The Owatonna People’s Press picked up the story…

An Owatonna teacher received early notice that she will be the 2015 teacher of the year for the state of Minnesota in her field.

Denise Lage will get the honor from the Minnesota Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, which is part of a national chain that represents teachers in that subject. She has taught for 28 years total, nearly all of them at Owatonna High School.

“It’s certainly not an award that should be given to one person at OHS because our department helps kids gain college and career readiness,” Lage said.

She will be recognized at an annual state conference in February, which takes place in St. Cloud. She will also be in the running for national honors at a June conference in Jacksonville, Florida.

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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!

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Schools are there to hone talent not showcase natural ability

We were so impressed with a recent blog post by Seth Godin we wanted to share it. It’s a little bit off topic for us – but then it really isn’t it After all we’re all intersted in helping youth become happy, healthy, fulfilled adults. And many of us believe tha school is the place where we teach kids to be happy and healthy, which means giving a kid a chance to be on the team or on the stage, giving a chance to get better on the team on the stage rather than selected your team based only on ability to win…

Soccer and football exist in school not because there’s a trophy shortage, not because the school benefits from winning. They exist, I think, to create a learning experience. But when we bench people because they’re not naturally good, what’s the lesson?

If you get ahead for years and years because you got dealt good cards, it’s not particularly likely that you will learn that in the real world, achievement is based as much on attitude and effort as it is on natural advantages. In the real world, Nobel prizes and Broadway roles and the senior VP job go to people who have figured out how to care, how to show up, how to be open to new experiences. Our culture is built around connection and charisma and learning and the ability to not quit in precisely the right moments.

But that’s not easy to sort for in school, so we take a shortcut and resort to trivial measures instead.

What if we celebrated the students who regularly try the hardest, help each other the most and lead? What if we fast tracked those students, and made it clear to anyone else willing to adopt those attitudes that they could be celebrated too?

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LZX New Product: Fresh from the Garden Dry Erase Poster

Garden Dry Erase PosterLearning ZoneXpress is pleased to announce our latest new product: Fresh from the Garden Dry Erase Poster

Fresh from the Garden Dry Erase Poster

Highlight and promote fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden with the Fresh from the Garden Dry Erase Poster. This dry erase signage offers plenty of space to write in fruits and veggies that are “in season” in a school or community garden or farmer’s market. The poster can also be used to promote farm to school initiatives by identifying foods being served in the school cafeteria from local farms or a school garden. Featuring our lovable Garden Heroes characters, this sign is a great way to engage students and promote healthy choices. 18” x 24” poster coated with dry erase laminate. For best results, use dry-erase or wet-erase markers only and wipe off with a soft cloth within 24 hours.

© 2014 Learning ZoneXpress

Item # 410245

UPC: 846742005428

Price: $18.95

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Create the Community Meal: a good idea from St Paul

We heard about this happening in our own state. We wanted to share the good idea with others.

Create: The Community Meal, from Public Art Saint Paul by Seitu Jones, aims to lower barriers to making healthy food choices. On September 14, 2014, 2,000 people will gather at a ½ mile long table in the middle of Saint Paul’s Victoria Street for a civic dinner table conversation about Food Access, Food Justice, and Healthy Eating.

Arising from the Central Corridor Public Art Plan, Create illuminates how artists and their creative collaborators can transform the urban Food System, considering the cultural, health, environmental and access equity aspects of urban food production, distribution and consumption.

Check out the website for more information – but don’t you just love the idea – healthy food, community conversation and art. Worth attending if you live in the area; perhaps worth replicating if you don’t.

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LZX New Product: Live 54321+10® for Kids Spanish Handouts

Learning ZoneXpress is pleased to announce our latest new product: Live 54321+10® for Kids Spanish Handouts

Live 54321+10® for Kids Spanish Handouts

Countdown to good health with six daily tasks that can help promote a healthy lifestyle. The Live 54321+10® for Kids Spanish Handouts identify and explain the significance of the numbers in the countdown for school-age children, including: • 5 servings of fruits and vegetables • 4 glasses of water • 3 good laughs • 2 hours or less screen • 1 hour of physical activity • +10 (or more) hours of sleep The backside of the handouts explain to parents and guardians why each number in the countdown is important and offers suggestions on how to incorporate them into your child’s daily routine. 8 1/2” x 11”, 50 sheets, 2-sided Spanish translation

© 2014 Learning ZoneXpress

Item # 475091

UPC: 846742005435

Price: $9.95

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Teens, Technology and Social Media: Free Webinar Sept 10

Teens, Technology and Social Media: Impacts on Healthy Relationship Development

Significant numbers of teens and young adults use social media as their main source of communicating with friends both those they have met in person and online. Today’s technology allows adolescents instant but distant access to each other yet at what price?

We wonder – “How will social media affect young people’s ability to build healthy, ongoing relationships? How will the new technologies affect their social skills? What can we do to help teens and young adults navigate this new terrain safely while building essential interpersonal skills?”

Join Jennifer Myers and Aaron Larson as they:

• Share how social media impacts the relationships and interactions of teens and young adults.

• Introduce a just-released supplementary lesson from Relationship Smarts PLUS on Technology and Social Media, using the new Dibble Digital platform.

Presenters: Jennifer Myers, M.A., L.P.A., holds a masters degree in clinical psychology, is a full-time Instructor in the Psychology Department at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, NC, and has a private clinical psychology practice at Carolina Counseling Center, specializing in adolescents. Aaron Larson, Dibble Digital Coordinator. Prior to this Aaron worked for the US Department of Health and Human Services as a Healthy Marriage Specialist on the President’s Healthy Marriage Initiative. He was also the director of the National Healthy Marriage Institute.

Who should attend: PREP Grantees, Extension Agents, Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood programs, Family and Consumer Sciences teachers, Out-of-School Time Instructors, anyone who is concerned about social media and teens and wants to make a difference.

When:Wednesday, September10, 2014
, 4:00 pm Eastern/
1:00 pm Pacific

Duration: 60 minutes

Cost: Free!

Register NOW!  by clicking on this link.

Questions about Webinars?


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LZX New Product: Kitchen Safety Poster Set

LKitchen Safety Poster Setearning ZoneXpress is pleased to announce our latest new product: Kitchen Safety Poster SetKitchen Safety Poster Set Promote safe practices in the kitchen with the Kitchen Safety Poster Set. This set of four posters includes tips to avoid falling, electrical shocks, burns, and cuts, as well as basic food safety advice to prevent food borne illness. Set of four, 11” x 17” Laminated © 2014 Learning ZoneXpress Item # 425000 UPC: 846742005404 Price: $19.95

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School breakfast mini-grants now available

Info from the Comprehensive Health Education Network…

New! AASA’s Children’s Programs department has alternative school breakfast funding available for school districts.


Apply for an alternative school breakfast mini-grant from AASA! Download the application (opens Word): Deadline 9/26 For more information, contact Kelly Beckwith at<> or 703-875-0758.

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