CHILDREN’S ENERGY INTAKE LINKED TO EATING LOCATION AND FOOD SOURCE — A report released by the American Dietetic Association suggests the eating location and the source of food influenced the daily energy intake for children. This study examined data from 29,217 children aged 2 to 18 years from 1977-2006 in three national surveys. Findings from the study linked an increase in energy intake by children to an increase in energy eaten away from home. From 1977-2006, the daily energy intake eaten away from home increased from 23.4 percent to 33.9 percent. This study also revealed a shift in the sources of energy with schools being overtaken by fast food to become the largest contributor to foods prepared outside of the home. Energy intake from prepared food purchased in stores also saw a significant increase, becoming the largest source of energy eaten away from home. Source: Journal of the American Dietetic Association (8/11)
IOWA TO PILOT NEW ANTI-BULLYING POLICY AT SCHOOLS THIS WINTER — A move to change Iowa’s anti-bullying policies begins with a pilot program in select schools statewide this winter. The Iowa Education Department is looking to expand the state’s anti-bullying policies after a Sioux City Journalreport found that districts have reported only 2 percent of bullying incidents to the state since 2007, while the national average is 30 percent. The pilot policy lists 17 categories of incidents, including verbal, physical, and electronic harassment, while existing policy lists only four categories – physical, racial or ethnic, real or perceived sexual orientation, and “other.” These categories came out a state law passed four years ago that requires schools and districts to report any bullying, but it also allows local officials to execute the policy as they see fit as long as incidents are reported to the state. The department will choose pilot sites from schools that qualify for federal Safe and Supportive School grants. Source: Sioux City Journal (8/21/11)
SCHOOLS START TO SEE IMPACT OF HEALTHY HUNGER FREE KIDS ACT — A U.S. Department of Agriculture pilot program is offering free and reduced-price breakfasts and lunches for every student in selected districts in Michigan, Illinois, and Kentucky. The Community Eligibility Option pilot–part of the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs with reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act last December–is designed to try to reduce the stigma surrounding participation in the federal school breakfast and lunch programs. Under the Community Eligibility Option, school districts and charter schools where at least 40 percent of the student population are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals are allowed to use pre-existing data rather than annual forms to determine their reimbursement rates for student meals. In turn, they must provide free meals school-wide. The Option will be phased in during the next three years and will be open to all states for the 2014-15 school year.
Also as part of the Child Nutrition Act, now called the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), the USDA has provided guidance and technical assistance to ensure children in the foster care system automatically receive free school meals, and to help schools promote school breakfast programs. Source: USDA press release (6/15, 8/15/11), Detroit Free Press (8/16/11)
CALIFORNIA TEENS SURROUNDED BY JUNK FOOD MERCHANTS — California teens are surrounded by junk food and eating more of it according to a study at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Researchers counted the number of restaurants and convenience stores near schools and homes and discovered junk food distributors outnumbered healthy food sellers 5 to 1 in areas where almost 75 percent of teens lived. In every county statewide, healthy food stores were outnumbered by fast food restaurants, convenience stores, pharmacies, and liquor stores. When the researchers compiled data about the eating habits of 3,600 teens from the California Health Interview Survey, they found soda and fast food consumption was significantly greater among teens who lived in junk food-friendly communities when compared to teens that did not have easy access. Source: California Watch.org (8/12/11),Food Environments Near Home and School Related to the Consumption of Soda and Fast Food (7/11)
ENVIRONMENT, OTHER FACTORS INFLUENCE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY IN UNDERSERVED CHILDREN — A study in the June 2011 issue of Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport (abstract) found environmental and social factors including confidence, gender, and social support have a significant impact on the physical activity of children in low-income communities. Dr. Jeffrey Martin at Wayne State University’s College of Education conducted the research as a follow-up to his 2005 report that found children living in underserved areas less physically active than children in communities with higher income. The latest study examined data from minority students between 10 and 14 years of age showed the strongest predictors for physical activity were children’s confidence in their abilities to exercise and get support from their teachers. The findings also showed that among the children surveyed, boys were more fit and received more support from their peers than girls do. Source: Eureka Alert.org (7/14/11)
ILLINOIS PERMITS SCHOOLS TO GIVE EMERGENCY ALLERGY SHOTS — A new Illinois law allows schools to stock epinephrine injections and for school nurses to administer the drug during an emergency. The law’s creation and passage was spurred by the death of a 13-year-old student due to a food allergy in a Chicago school. Source: Chicago.cbslocal.com (8/16/11)
CDC RESOURCE HELPS SCHOOLS REDUCE SODIUM — Under Pressure: Strategies for Sodium Reduction in the School Environment is a new resource from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that provides rationale and recommendations for reducing sodium in the school setting. The guide contains timely information because the proposed nutrition standards being drafted by the U.S. Agriculture Department will likely force school meal programs to reduce sodium levels to some degree, starting within the next few years.
NEW GUIDELINES TO PREVENT HEAT ILLNESSES AMONG STUDENT ATHLETES — The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) created a set of guidelines to ensure safety for student athletes when practicing in extremely hot weather. The 11 recommendations were created to help schools prevent heat-related illnesses and are based on recent research that shows that most incidents are preventable with proper hydration, recovery time and use of equipment and clothing. Follow this link for more information.
REPORT MAPS FAMILY HUNGER NATIONWIDE — A report from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), Food Hardship in America 2010: Households with and without Children, provides a map of the concentration of families with children that have gone through periods where they were not able to purchased adequate amounts of food. The report organizes the information by state, large cities and by congressional district. Among the findings discussed are that rates exceed 25 percent in 21 states and the District of Columbia, 40 of the nation’s largest cities, and 195 different congressional districts. Most of the states with high rates of food insecure families are in the southeast, southwest and western U.S. Leaders and members of key committees, including those that control the federal school food programs and other types of hunger assistance programs, represent many of the congressional districts with the highest rates of food insecurity.
CDC FACT SHEET OUTLINES FINANCIAL IMPACT OF STRONGER NUTRITION STANDARDS — A fact sheet from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent and School Health compiles existing research to discuss the financial impact of improving school food environments. “Implementing Strong Nutritional Standards for Schools: Financial Implications” demonstrates that creating stronger nutrition standards does not usually lead to a decrease in revenue from competitive food sales.
NEW REPORT PRESENTS PICTURE OF WELL-BEING OF NATION’S CHILDREN — America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2011 from the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics presents data in a format that makes it easy to use and to stimulate conversations among policymakers about children’s health issues. The primary mission of the Forum is to bring together 22 Federal government agencies and partners to provide the nation with a summary of national indicators of children’s well-being and to monitor changes in these indicators across seven domains.
GREEN SCHOOL MAKEOVER CONTEST — Global Green will award one K-12 school in the country a $65,000 “green” makeover and another $65,000 in technical assistance to make it happen. The contest’s goal is to get schools thinking about ways to improve their student environments while simultaneously providing new learning opportunities. Green, in this case, can mean anything from building a school garden to improving indoor air quality. Every school is eligible. Follow this link for more information.