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:

Leave a comment

Grants for K-12 Math and Science Programs Funded

Tell your colleagues…

K-12 Math and Science Programs Funded
Toshiba America Foundation
The Toshiba America Foundation is dedicated to promoting quality science and mathematics education in U.S. K-12 schools. The Foundation provides grants through the following two initiatives: The Grants Program for K-5 Science and Math Education provides grants of up to $1,000 to teachers in public or private schools to help them bring innovative hands-on projects into their classrooms. The application deadline is October 1, annually. The Grants Program for 6-12 Science and Math Education provides small grants of up to $5,000 and large grants of over $5,000 to teachers who are passionate about making science and mathematics more engaging for their students. Applications for small grants may be submitted throughout the year. The annual application deadlines for large grants are February 1 and August 1. Visit the Foundation’s website for details about each of the grant programs.

Thanks to GrantStation for the heads up!

Leave a comment

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.
Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

20% Off Your Next Order for Nutrition Education Materials

Quick news to share …

Receive 20% off your next order when you use coupon code 140407.

sugar shakers active kids myplate


Expires 6/30/14. Not valid with any other offers. May not be applied to previous orders. One-time use only. Discount does not apply to shipping and tax charges

Leave a comment

Webinar Invitation (5/22): OCTAE Presents a Common Framework for 21st Century Employability Skills

This looks like a good fit for a lot of readers…

You are Invited! Webinar: OCTAE Presents a Common Framework for 21st Century Employability Skills

May 22, 2014 • 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. (EST)

Please join the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) for a webinar to learn about strategies for integrating employability skills into high quality career technical education programs. The webinar will address why employability skills matter from the federal and state policy and employer perspectives and demonstrate the potential uses of OCTAE’s newly updated Employability Skills Framework website. Implementation strategies, including applications for the workforce system, student organizations, and community colleges, also will be shared.

Speakers include: Niki Clausen, SkillsUSA; Stephen DeWitt, Association for Career and Technical Education; Lauren Fairley, U.S. Department of Labor; Kimberly Green, National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium; Kathy Mannes, American Association of Community Colleges; Sharon Miller, OCTAE; and Grace Suh, IBM Corporation.
Please register in advance for the webinar at the following link:  After registering, you will receive additional details and a link to the webinar.

Contact Laura Rasmussen Foster at RTI International with any questions (

Leave a comment

Apps for Family & Consumer Sciences

We are pleased to share the following article from our friends at American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences  (AAFCS). You can learn about more FACS apps from their latest newsletter

Apps for Family & Consumer Sciences

By Sharon A. Baillie, 2011 AAFCS National Teacher of the Year

I received a grant from Pathways for Financial Success, which included the purchase of an iPad lab. My students and I have been trying out apps to use in my FCS classroom. Each month I will be reviewing apps for FCS. To find the app, do a Google search and type the words “app store” after the app name. You will get a link to the android, iTunes, or Google store if the app is available for your device. If you have suggestions for future apps to include, please send me an email.

Quizlet allows students to study vocabulary words on their mobile device as flash cards or by choosing to play one of three games. Word lists must be created on a computer or selected from the many lists already available.

(See more)

Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

Movie Monday: 50 App Activities for Math

50 App Activities for Math - a collection of 50 lesson plans, teacher resources and games based on free and low-cost apps. Math topics covered include

• Numbers and Operations
• Geometry
• Probability and Statistics
• And Applied Math
Great for grades 6-8.

Each activity description includes info on where to get the app and how to use it in the classroom, including some interactive ideas to for classrooms with 1-to-1 devices or with students sharing devices.

50 App Activities for Math includes popular apps and hidden treasures such as select Khan Academy videos and games such as Alge-Bingo.

You can check out the table of content at Search for 50 App Activities for Math. Or simply search for 50 App Activities for the whole collection.

Leave a comment

Professional Development at the University of Minnesota for teachers teaching personal finance topics

OK – this is targeting our friends in Minnesota. But we love the idea and wanted to share!

The Minnesota Council on Economic Education, based at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, is offering a number of professional development opportunities in economics and personal finance for K-12 teachers this summer. Each course covers all the social studies benchmarks in economics and teachers leave with countless resources. Learn more and sign up at<>.

Personal Finance Camp<> (All grades, June 23-25, UMN Duluth, $50) Looking for new personal finance materials for your classroom? Join us for this three-day workshop that provides instruction on 20 interactive lessons that introduce personal finance to secondary students. The lessons provide engaging scenarios that will have students analyzing their options as they think about budgeting, saving, and investing. Free dorm housing is provided at UMN Duluth.

Entrepreneurship Economics<> (9-12 educators, July 14-18, UMN Twin Cities, $80) is a week-long course that provides teachers with the knowledge and tools they need to teach entrepreneurship in their classrooms. Our goal is that participants will have enough material at their fingertips by the end of the week to feel comfortable integrating entrepreneurship into a current course or creating a standalone course at their school.  All participants receive a weekly stipend of $250 for full participation in the course.

Preparing to Teach High School Economics<> – Registration Deadline: June 16 (9-12 educators, July 21-25, UMN Twin Cities, $80) This is a week-long course that provides a solid introduction to the high school Minnesota standards in economics, and is a must for any teacher new to teaching economics. The flow of the course alternates between understanding economic concepts and learning HOW to teach those concepts to your students.

All participants in Preparing to Teach High School Economics receive two free UMN graduate credits upon completion of the course in July 2015. All participants receive a weekly stipend of $150 for full participation in the course.

Leave a comment