Thursday, July 21, 2016

Local School Wellness Policy and Smart Snacks among Four Regulations Ensuring Access to Healthy Food, Consistent Nutrition Standards for Foods Marketed and Served to Students, and Greater Program Integrity

Today, the Obama Administration is announcing four final rules that implement important provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) building on the progress schools across the country have already made in the improved nutritional quality of meals served in schools. As a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to raise a healthier generation, the rules will ensure that children have access to healthy snacks and that nutrition standards for the foods marketed and served in schools are consistent. The rules will also promote integrity across the school meals programs.
"I am thrilled with the progress we continue to make in building healthier learning environments for our kids with science-based nutrition standards for all food sold and marketed in schools. As a mom, I know how hard parents work to provide nutritious meals and snacks to their kids, and we want to make sure we support those efforts with healthy choices at school," said First Lady Michelle Obama. "I am inspired by the tremendous work that's being done in schools across the country to provide our kids healthy food to fuel them throughout the day so that they can grow up healthy and fulfill their boundless promise."
"Children's ability to learn in the classroom and reach their fullest potential depends on what we do right now to ensure their health," stated Secretary Vilsack. "The actions we are announcing today continue the Administration's unprecedented commitment to building a healthier next generation and institutionalize the positive changes schools across the country have already made."
The Smart Snacks in School final rule aligns the nutritional quality of snacks sold to children during the school day with the science-based improvements made to school lunches and breakfasts over the last five years. These include using practical, science-based nutrition standards that ensure children are offered more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. States have the flexibility to allow limited exemptions to school-sponsored fundraisers during the school day. The Smart Snacks standards were implemented in the 2014 – 2015 school year in accordance with the interim final rule. This final rule makes modest improvements to those standards based on public comments and lessons learned from implementation.
The Local School Wellness Policy final rule ensures that any food or beverage that is marketed on school campuses during the school day meets the Smart Snacks standards. According to a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 70 percent of elementary and middle school students are exposed to some kind of food/beverage marketing through school. Many of the foods and beverages that are heavily marketed to children contribute to poor diet quality, high calorie intake, and excess weight gain. However, the majority of schools do not have policies restricting food and beverage marketing to children. This rule makes sure foods offered and marketed to students during the school day have consistent nutrition standards.
The Local School Wellness Policy final rule also empowers communities to take an active role in the health of their children. It requires schools to engage parents, students and community members in the annual development and assessment of local school wellness policies. These policies guide a school district's efforts to establish school environments that support healthy eating and physical activity. States and local communities will have flexibility in developing a policy that works best for them.
Also posted today were the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) final rule and the Administrative Review final rule. Under HHFKA, CEP allows schools and local educational agencies with high poverty rates to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students to promote access to healthy food and reduce administrative burdens on schools and families. The final rule streamlines administrative processes, making it easier to participate in the meal programs. More than 18,000 schools in high poverty areas currently participate in CEP, which is now in its second year of nationwide implementation offering nutritious meals at no cost to 8.5 million students.
The Administrative Review final rule updates the administrative review process used by state agencies to monitor federally-funded school meal programs. It safeguards the integrity of the programs, ensures taxpayer dollars are being spent as intended, and increases accountability and transparency by publicly posting how well school food authorities are complying with various requirements. State agencies began implementing the updated review process in school year 2013-2014, and currently 95 percent of state agencies are already implementing the updated administrative review process.
The rules announced today are part of implementing the HHFKA where more than 52 million children now have healthier school environments than ever before with over 98 percent of schools meeting the healthier meal standards. In addition, research shows that under the updated standards nearly 80 percent of schools offer two or more vegetables at lunch and consumption has increased by more than 16 percent. This is especially crucial for the approximately 15.3 million American children that live in food insecure households, many of whom rely on school meals as a consistent source of nutritious food.
Key improvements to child nutrition programs implemented under the HHFKA include:
To better assist schools with these improvements, USDA also implemented mentor-based training for school nutrition professionals through the Team Up for School Nutrition Success initiative. More information about USDA's efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and support the health of our next generation can be found on USDA's Medium chapter, Growing a Healthier Future.

In total, USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs. In addition to National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, these programs include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the summer meals programs, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, which together comprise America's nutrition safety net. For more information, visit

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Will spices used beyond their expiration date be safe?

Many spices are available in both whole and ground forms. Ground spices lose their aroma and flavor more quickly, so it's wise to buy them in small quantities. For best quality, store whole spices at room temperature for 2 to 4 years and ground spices for 2 to 3 years.

How long can I keep condiments in the refrigerator?

After opening condiments, you can refrigerate them for the following times:
Ketchup, cocktail or chili sauce, 6 months
Chutney, 1 to 2 months
Horseradish, 3 to 4 months
Mustard, 12 months
Pickles or olives, 2 weeks
To find the storage times for other condiments, go to the Food Marketing Institute's Website to search for a specific food. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Can you grill frozen meats?

Yes, but it will take 50% longer.  It's best to completely defrost meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks more evenly. However, uniformly thin meat, such as frozen hamburger patties, may be grilled frozen.
Remember that outdoor grills can vary in heat. Use a food thermometer to check for safe cooking and doneness of meat, and take the temperature in several places to ensure even cooking. For the safe internal temperate of meat and poultry please visit Is it Done Yet?

Can I place meat and poultry together on the grill for cooking?

Meat and poultry can be placed  together on the grill for cooking. It's important to use a food thermometer to be sure all of the food has reached a high enough temperature to destroy foodborne bacteria. All poultry should reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F (73.9 °C) as measured with a food thermometer.  For whole poultry, check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. Beef, veal, and lamb steaks, roasts and chops can be cooked to 145 °F (62.8°C) with a 3 minute rest time. Hamburgers made of ground beef should reach 160 °F (71.1°F).
NEVER partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later. You can read more about grilling food safely at Barbecue Food Safety

How long can you keep hot dogs?

Packaged hot dogs can be stored in the refrigerator 2 weeks before opening. After opening a package of hot dogs you can keep them for a week in the refrigerator (40 °F/4.4 °C or less). These meats can also be frozen for 1 to 2 months for best quality. Frozen foods are safe indefinitely. See also our fact sheet on Hot Dogs and Food Safety.


ZERO TO THREE works to ensure that babies and toddlers benefit from the early connections that are critical to their well-being and development focusing on early development and wellbeing, early learning, and parenting.

Working Moms Refuge Website has some great resources covering families

Working Moms Refuge Website that covers Family | Career | Art of Juggling | Single Moms | News Dad's Voice | Bookshelf | Recipes | Sports Mom | Discussion Lists

Parents Reaching Out

The mission of Parents Reaching Out is to enhance positive outcomes for families and children
in New Mexico through informed decision making, advocacy, education, and resources. Parents
Reaching Out provides the networking opportunities for families to connect with and support
each other. This mission supports all families including those who have children with
disabilities, and others who are disenfranchised.
Parents Reaching Out achieves this by:
Developing family leadership
Connecting families to each other
Building collaborative partnerships
Providing families knowledge and tools to enhance their power
For more information, go to:

Two publications highlight data, tools to serve Latino communities

A guide and fact sheet for local service providers from the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families that highlight data and tools to explore local Hispanic demographics is available at:

2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book is available

The 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation provides a detailed picture of how children are faring in the United States. In addition to ranking states on overall child well-being, the book ranks states in four areas: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. The book is now available for free online. Access it at:

Impact of Adoption on Adoptive Parents

Adoptive parenthood, like other types of parenthood, can bring tremendous joy—and a sizable amount of stress. This Spanish-language factsheet explores some of the emotional ups and downs that adoptive parents may experience before, during, and after adoption. While every family is unique and every parent has different feelings and experiences, there are some general themes that emerge regarding adoptive parents' emotional responses. The purpose of the factsheet is to identify some of these themes, affirm common feelings, and provide links to resources that may help your family address adoption-related concerns. This publication is also available in English.

Adoption Options: Where Do I Start?

The prospect of adopting a child can be both exciting and overwhelming. There are many different types of adoption and choices to be made in pursuing an adoption. This factsheet is a Spanish-language introduction to the many pathways to building a family through adoption. It provides a basic understanding of the different types of adoption and guides readers to relevant resources. It begins by describing the different types of adoption and goes on to discuss State laws governing adoption, choosing an agency or adoption services provider, completing the home study, being matched with a child, and completing the necessary legal documents. This publication is also available in English.

Disaster Planning for Child Welfare Agencies

Child welfare agencies are entrusted with supporting, protecting, and caring for children and families in their communities. This work can be complex and difficult even during calm times, and it can become even more so in the midst of natural or manmade disasters. Federal law requires State child welfare agencies to develop disaster plans. Doing so is a best practice that can help child welfare agencies be better prepared to serve children and families, both those that were previously in contact with the agency and those that may require the agency's assistance due to the disaster. This factsheet outlines the reasons child welfare agencies should develop disaster plans, provides an overview of plan development, points to resources for creating preparedness plans, and highlights State and local examples.

Kinship Caregivers and the Child Welfare System

A number of grandparents and other relatives care for children whose own parents are unable to care for them. Sometimes, the arrangement (referred to as "kinship care") is an informal, private arrangement between the parents and relative caregivers; in other situations, the local child welfare agency is involved. This factsheet is designed to help kinship caregivers—including grandparents, aunts and uncles, other relatives, and family friends caring for children—work effectively with the child welfare system. Resources, such as links to more detailed information or places to find help, are included.

Reunification: Bringing Your Children Home From Foster Care

Foster care is not forever. Children and youth can and do return home to their families. In fact, this is the most common outcome. This factsheet for families provides a general overview of the reunification process, including what parents can expect while their children are in foster care, what they can do to help their children return home, and what to expect after children return home. Resources to help families during and after reunification are also included.

Number of homeless students doubles in past 10 years

More than 1 million U.S. students were homeless in the 2013-14 school year -- twice as many as a decade ago. A report from Civic Enterprises highlights homeless students and their challenges through interviews with 44 such students and a survey of 158 who were homeless during middle or high school. -

Sexual Violence Prevention Technical Package

Sexual violence is not inevitable; it is a public health problem that can be prevented. It can result in physical injuries and psychological impacts that can be severe, long lasting, and costly. But sexual violence is not inevitable; it is a public health problem that can be prevented. CDC created a technical package for states and communities to apply the best available evidence in preventing sexual violence. Learn more about CDC's technical package to prevent sexual violence -

CDC Releases Youth Risk Behaviors Survey Results

CDC released new data from Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Report - 2015 on health risk behaviors among high school students. Learn more about working with teens to help them establish healthy behaviors -

Ideas for nurturing the maker mindset

Nurturing a maker mindset in students requires both physical and mental tools, educator Jennifer Pieratt explains. Pieratt, founder of CraftED Curriculum, describes six mental tools, including free play and reflection. EdSurge -

New report highlights results of survey on parenting education

A new report by the National Parenting Education Network (NPEN): Parenting Education Engagement and Outreach presents the results of a survey NPEN conducted about work being done in parenting education.

The science behind how we taste and smell food

Guy Crosby explains how our sense of taste and smell is clearly linked to overall health, and why some of us may be "super-tasters." 016%20(1)&utm_content=

Twitter as Professional Learning Network

Tips for managing Twitter feeds Educators can use Twitter lists to exchange tips with their peers and build professional learning networks, education-technology coach Cate Tolnai suggests. Tolnai offers tips for educators on setting up and organizing Twitter lists. SmartBrief/Education -

What does teen employment say about the future workforce?

Data show teen employment rates have decreased from 43% in 2000 to 26% in 2014. The numbers don't necessarily forecast trouble for the future workforce, but research on career academies suggests that young people -- particularly those who are disadvantaged -- benefit from secondary programs that link them to work-based experience, Brookings Institution fellow Martha Ross asserts in this blog post. The Brookings Institution -

Ore. senator notes link between CTE, graduation rates

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said he will highlight career and technical education as a solution for lagging graduation rates and noted that CTE programs help to increase attendance rates. The senator this week toured CTE programs at a high school and praised it as a model for hands-on CTE. East Oregonian -

NYC group teaches positive parent, child interactions

 A New York City-based organization, Power of Two, is helping to train parents in the city's high-poverty areas to be more sensitive to their children's needs. The long-term goal is to build strong social and academic skills among children. The Hechinger Report -

Schools to Begin Monitoring Students From Military Families

A provision of the Every Student Succeeds Act requires schools to monitor the academic achievement of students from military families, who move frequently across the US and the world. Concerns have been raised about the challenges faced by these students, who also cope with long absences by deployed loved ones. Education Week -

NM Hackathon focuses on Native American youths

Students participating in the first Native Youth My Brother's Keeper Hackathon created video games and apps featuring Native American characters. The event aimed to engage Native American students in science, technology, engineering and math. Education Dive -

Schools focus on managing stress, trauma

Research shows trauma can have negative effects in areas such as brain development, academics and relationships. Some schools are rethinking zero-tolerance discipline policies, turning instead to stress-management practices such as mindfulness. The Washington Post - 6e6e7a14000c_story.html

Prolonged Computer Usage

What are the risks of prolonged computer use? Individuals who use computers three or more hours a day may exhibit symptoms of computer vision syndrome. Research shows 70% to 90% of such users report one or more symptoms of the condition. The New York Times -