Category Archives: schools

Help Spread the Word So Oregon Kids Don’t Go Hungry

New meal programs are opening to children ages 1 to 18 in school districts statewide, thanks to dedicated school nutrition professionals around the state with the support and partnership of Oregon Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs.

Check out a meal site near you, and help spread the word on your social media accounts and in your community to help families with kids ages 1 to 18.

Here is a list of programs compiled by Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon.

According to No Kid Hungry, one in six American children faces hunger and three out of four teachers report regularly seeing hungry kids in their classrooms. Oregon is especially high in food insecurity for youth. When school lets out unexpectedly for something like the coronavirus, it poses potential problems for many students who depend on school meals.

That’s why many school districts are now providing drive up or walk up, “grab-and-go” meals at selected school sites for all youth from 1 to 18 years old at no cost, regardless of income. These meals meet strict regulations for nutrition and are provided at no charge, with no need to sign up or show identification.

Lunches available at a school in Hillsboro.

Even though these grab-and-go programs were just rolled out, they are already working. Hillsboro School District, just west of Portland, announced that 2,000 lunches and 1,200 breakfasts were served on one of the first days they were offered. Nutrition directors in Oregon and across the country anticipate the numbers will continue to rise as households are affected more long term and consume their existing and emergency food supplies.

On March 17, Governor Brown announced that schools in Oregon will remain closed until Tuesday, April 28. Since this situation is evolving, families are encouraged to check their school district website for updates and current information on local meal sites.

RELATED LINKS:

Accessing food during the Coronavirus outbreak

Where Portland-area families can find free grab-and-go kids meals during school shutdown

Oregon, Washington school districts offer meals to students amid coronavirus closures

Virtual Tours Bring Dairy Farms to the Classroom

There’s a new way for classrooms to take field trips, thanks to technology. Instead of bringing kids to the farm, we’re bringing dairies to a school near you.

In schools nationwide, it isn’t always possible for students to take educational field trips due to time or funding constraints and transportation logistics. These field trips are missed among teachers and students alike, as they can play an integral part of the learning process. Field trips are also one of the best ways to learn about agriculture.

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“Field trips help students see, experience and learn about agriculture straight from the source. Students love the opportunity to experience something new, and teachers welcome the opportunity for a guest to share with their class,” says Jessica Jansen, Executive Director for Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation.

Thanks to technology, there is a new way to learn about agriculture without ever having to board a school bus. It’s as simple as connecting via a smartphone and laptop for a virtual tour.

Recently, the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council partnered with Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom to host a virtual field trip at Rickreall Dairy. “It is incredibly important in my industry to educate students about what we do on a dairy farm,” says Louie Kazemier, owner of Rickreall Dairy, who also hosts traditional field trips every spring for more than 1,500 people yearly. “It gives students an opportunity to learn about where their food comes from, and also encourages them to think about career opportunities in agriculture.”

Agriculture in the Classroom, a nationwide educational program, is designed to help students develop an awareness and understanding that agriculture is the source of our food, clothing, shelter and other essentials. “At Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom we are passionate about connecting academic concepts to agricultural topics, and virtual farm field trips are a great way to do just that,” says Jansen. “We’re providing students the opportunity to witness new and exciting topics while showing them how this connects to what they are learning in the classroom.”

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For a dairy virtual tour, teachers sign up though the Agriculture in the Classroom website. A limited number of classrooms can sign up, and the first tour was booked in less than 24 hours. A week prior to the tour, the classroom receives a sensory box to explore items that they will view during the tour. For dairy farming, they focus on items that students can touch and smell like alfalfa, grain, and ear tags.

There are opportunities to learn about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) though virtual tours. Whether it’s the math of converting pounds of milk into gallons, or the science of animal nutrition, STEM learning opportunities are abundant on a dairy farm.

“Through a field trip we provide students and educators context and relevancy with examples of why it’s important to know math, science and other content areas. The math alone on a dairy farm is extensive and helping students see how important it is and it being used is priceless for students,” says Jansen.

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The tours are filmed live using Zoom videoconferencing, but there are other platforms that could be used as well. “We recently brought 500 3rd through 5th graders through our barns in a little under an hour just by using Zoom,” says Kazemier, “and not only do they get to hear me explain what they are seeing on the screen, but they also get to ask their own questions in real-time.”

“One of my goals at the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council is to make it as easy as possible for dairy farmers to share their farms with students,” says Stacy Foster, Industry Relations and Communications Manager at ODNC. “Dairy farmers are incredibly busy. Virtual tours provide an opportunity for us to reach across the state of Oregon to hundreds of students in only one hour.”

Kazemier also appreciates that virtual tours can educate beyond traditional field trips. “There are places on a dairy farm that we would never go with students due to concerns of liability, biosecurity and cleanliness. With the virtual tour, we can literally give classrooms a “backstage pass” to our facility. They get to walk where the cows walk, and get up close and personal with our animals,” says Louie Kazemier.

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“While virtual farm field trips shouldn’t be a replacement for all farm field trips, it’s a great way to reach students who might not ever have the opportunity for a field trip,” says Jansen. Agriculture in the Classroom has plans to continue the program, with dairy and other agriculture sectors. “We’ll be planning two more dairy field trips, a series of two ranch-related tours this spring and a few crop-related experiences. Interested teachers can sign up for updates on our website.”

RELATED LINKS:

Virtual Farm Field Trip at Rickreall Dairy 

Calf Barn Virtual Field Trip at Rickreall Dairy

What Will the School Lunch of the Future Look Like?

Quinoa, kale, Brussels sprouts, tamales, green smoothies. These are all foods you might find in a trendy restaurant … or on a lunch tray in your local school cafeteria.

School lunches are fast overcoming their stereotypical reputation as bland and uninspired through some creativity and innovation by school nutrition professionals. On this National School Lunch Week, let’s take a look toward the future.

If you’ve ever tried to concentrate on something when you’re really hungry, you’ll understand that students don’t perform at their best without a nutritious lunch, which they won’t eat unless it tastes good. Schools are committed to providing great food in their cafeterias, and it can be challenging to be innovative when there are so many considerations, including:

• Making it tasty for a wide range of food preferences
• Making it easy to eat in a short period of time
• Cost and budgetary concerns
• Regulations and nutrition standards
• Allergies and dietary restrictions
• Sourcing and availability
• Food safety, storage and logistics
• Limiting food waste

Schools and school districts may operate differently, yet they share the common goal of providing meals their students actually want and will eat. These meals fuel students with the needed nutrients to grow and think. Improving menus can take some creativity, and that’s why culinary training events have proven so popular over the past nine years in Oregon.

Jessica Visinsky, a Registered Dietitian and trained chef, travels the state to teach child nutrition professionals about new recipes, knife skills, menu requirements and strategies to promote healthy eating. The trainings are sponsored by the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council and the Oregon Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs, and are offered at no cost to the schools.

As a result, school nutrition professionals are preparing more scratch recipes, often from the Oregon State University Food Hero program. Check out Food Hero for recipes that can be made at home and with kids. Students have responded positively. Many also explore farm to school opportunities to include seasonal fruits, vegetables and other local foods year-round.

The school lunch of the future will likely include more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Some are taking a serious look at plant-based diets and some are looking at local, sustainably sourced center-of-the-plate proteins such as seafood and beef. These are all complemented well by the nutrition provided in dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. Restrictions will continue for sodium, sugar and unhealthy fat, driven by science and recommendations from USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

You don’t have to gaze into a crystal ball to see the future of school lunches is looking bright. On this National School Lunch Week, we salute all of those who work so hard to put nutritious and delicious foods on our students’ trays. Thank you!

Home recipes of photos shown above … and more.

RELATED LINKS

Meet Chef Jessica: Serving up Fresh Ideas for Student Meals (VIDEO)

Chef Jessica Visinsky, RDN, is training a growing number of child nutrition program professionals to prepare delicious and nutritious food for Oregon students.

Sponsored by the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) Child Nutrition Programs, a new series of the popular culinary trainings are helping improve school cafeteria and child care menus.

Jessica Visinsky, Registered Dietitian and trained chef, who works on the ODE Child Nutrition Programs team, is leading the 2019 workshops in Lincoln City, North Marion and Umatilla to teach child nutrition professionals about 15 new recipes, knife skills, menu requirements and strategies to promote healthy eating.

In preparation for these workshops, Jessica visited the ODNC office to test recipes including National Dairy Council’s Sunny Chicken and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beef Tamale Pie. While Jessica cooked, we talked more about her thoughts on the program – check out the video below!

 

Anthony Newman Invites Kids to Enjoy Free Summer Meals (VIDEO)

Former NFL player and Oregon Duck, Anthony Newman, encourages all Oregon youth 1-18 years old to enjoy tasty, healthy lunches at nearby summer meal sites. There’s no registration, no sign up and no charge for these meals that are often served at local schools, parks, libraries or community centers.

Youth will have a chance to be nourished, be active and to have time with friends throughout the summer, and maybe even check out some books. What a great (and tasty) way to be ready for the start of school!

Parents will love to know that the meals follow USDA My Plate guidelines, providing all of the food groups to meet strict nutrition regulations for health.

To find a site near you, call 211, text “Food” to 877-877, or ask your school nutrition team for details.

RELATED LINK:

Summer Meals for Oregon Kids

Portland School Walks the Walk for Wellness

Jason Lee Elementary School in Portland has been recognized with a statewide award for literally “walking the walk” when it comes to championing wellness for students and faculty.

Every Friday morning, rain or shine, Jason Lee Elementary School staff, students and parents walk or run the “Morning Mile” before school. Combined with the school’s physical education program, nutritious cooking classes for students and a community garden, you can start to see some of the many reasons why it was one of the two schools in Oregon to earn a 2019 School Wellness Award.

This award recognizes schools for outstanding school wellness policies, practices and programs that promote healthy student and staff behavior. These schools have implemented evidence-based strategies to encourage student, staff and community health and wellness. These strategies include:

  • Providing healthy celebration opportunities
  • Scheduling recess before lunch
  • Providing breakfast after the bell
  • Wellness initiatives for school staff
  • Family Night events that get everyone moving
  • School gardens
  • Healthy cooking programs for families
  • Open gym before and after school hours

The Nutrition Council of Oregon and the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, the title sponsors for these awards, join the Oregon Department of Education in recognizing these schools. Each award recipient receives a $2,500 cash prize, a banner and a certificate of recognition presented at local school celebrations. Wilson Elementary School in Corvallis joins Jason Lee Elementary as the other 2019 award winner.

The places where we live, work and learn have a big impact on our health. Wellness policies guide school efforts to establish an environment that creates a healthy workplace for staff, and promotes student health, well-being, and ability to learn. All districts are required to have wellness policies in place that meet Oregon’s minimum requirements, but schools can choose to implement stronger policies or additional programs to further support student and staff wellness.

Students Connect with School Nutrition Professionals (VIDEO)

When students from Armand Larive Middle School attended a Culinary Workshop in Umatilla, hosted by Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, they saw their school nutrition professionals in action. This post debuts a great new video they created to share their experience.

The Culinary Workshop is one of six regional workshops offered to school nutrition professionals throughout Oregon to help improve child nutrition programs. “I want to make sure we have a variety of foods represented, because these folks help make the menus for schools,” said Chef and Registered Dietitian Garrett Berdan.

Many of the recipes used for this workshop are from Food Hero (www.foodhero.org) , an online resource with shopping hints, cooking tips and videos, to help Oregonians improve their health with affordable and healthy recipes.

While attending the workshop, Armand Larive Middle School students interviewed, taste-tested and even gave their feedback on the finished recipes to re-cap the day. This is one of many video projects they have done with video equipment provided through a Fuel Up to Play 60 Grant.

Fuel Up to Play 60 is a school nutrition and exercise program launched by the National Dairy Council and the NFL to improve health and encourage today’s youth to live healthier lives. Grants are available to qualified K-12 schools to jump start healthy changes in the school environment.

“The students worked really hard on editing this,” said Angie Treadwell, SNAP-Ed Program Coordinator. “There was lots of footage to sort through, and I think it was a really good experience for them in many ways, especially in gaining a deeper understanding of school food service.”

As one of the many examples showing how the experience is paying off, Armand Larive Middle School’s Ashley Treadwell received Honorable Mention in the National Scholastic Press Association Individual Award Contest for her video story titled “Cooking Class.”

RELATED LINKS:

Dairy Enlightening: Educational Leaders Tour Cloud Cap Farms

This summer, School nutrition directors, teachers, and administrators from Oregon and Idaho toured Cloud Cap Farms as a part of a special event called the “Fuel Up to Play 60 Pro Bowl.”

The Pro Bowl was a two-day event for school wellness champions to learn more about promoting healthy eating and physical activity through the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. The tour was organized by the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council and Dairy West.

“The primary purpose of these tours is to dispel myths. And there’s the opportunity to ask any of the questions that you might have,” said Jenifer Cruickshank from OSU’s Extension Service.

The farm tour was led by Melissa Collman, a fourth generation dairy farmer. Cloud Cap Farms is an organic dairy located outside of Portland in Boring, Oregon. They milk 200 cows twice a day, and the farm has been in operation for 94 years.

As one of the Oregon Dairy Farmer Association’s Young Dairy Leaders, Melissa is an active “agvocate.” She has participated in many events promoting youth health and wellness, advocating for agriculture, and boosting awareness and support for dairy. She also works for Organic Valley, helping innovate and educate in the organic food system.

With a goal to help Pro Bowl attendees learn firsthand about food systems, and the farms and farmers who provide nutritious food and ingredients to their schools, Melissa shared about the importance of cow care to provide quality milk. “The healthier [the cow] is, the healthier her milk is,” Melissa explained.

“It’s amazing to see the care that all these cows get to make sure that the milk we are getting is safe and healthy and good for us,” shared Anne Leavens, the Director of Food and Nutrition Services for Central Point School District. “Milk is a huge part of our meal program,” said Leavens. “You don’t think about how much work goes into the food that we are getting every day.”

The Pro Bowl participants all agreed they learned more about food systems, healthy eating and physical activity strategies to share with students and staff at their schools.

“Anytime questions about milk, or even dairy cattle, come up, they’ve got a nice firm basis now to answer questions for other people,” said Cruickshank. “Because they can say, ‘I’ve been on a dairy, and this is what I saw.’”

 

Three Oregon Schools Honored for Wellness Efforts

It’s official! McNary Heights Elementary in Umatilla School District, Madison Elementary in Coos Bay School District and Vern Patrick Elementary in Redmond School District are winners of the 2018 Oregon School Wellness Award.

This award recognizes schools for outstanding school wellness policies, practices and programs that promote healthy student and staff behavior. These schools have implemented evidence-based strategies to encourage student, staff and community health and wellness. These strategies include:

  • Providing healthy celebration opportunities
  • Scheduling recess before lunch
  • Providing breakfast after the bell
  • Wellness initiatives for school staff
  • Family Night events that get everyone moving
  • School gardens
  • Healthy cooking programs for families
  • Open gym before and after school hours

“There is clear data that student health and student learning are connected. School-based wellness policies and activities create a safe place for students to practice selecting foods and experience physical activity that contribute to lifelong health,” ODE Manager of School Nutrition Programs Heidi Dupuis said. “These awards highlight the best efforts in Oregon to support wellness in students, their families, and communities.”

The Nutrition Council of Oregon and the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, the title sponsor for these awards, join the Oregon Department of Education in recognizing these schools. Each award recipient receives a $2,500 cash prize, a banner and a certificate of recognition presented at local school celebrations that will take place over the next two months.

“Many schools across Oregon have strong wellness policies,” Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council Director of Youth Wellness Crista Hawkins said. “These schools bring wellness policies to action through healthy eating and physical activity initiatives. The winning schools are wonderful examples of the work being done to support on-going wellness for students, staff, and school communities.”

The places where we live, work and learn have a big impact on our health. Wellness policies guide school efforts to establish an environment that creates a healthy workplace for staff, and promotes student health, well-being, and ability to learn. All districts are required to have wellness policies in place that meet Oregon’s minimum requirements, but schools can choose to implement stronger policies or additional programs to further support student and staff wellness.

New School Meals on the Menu for Oregon Students

The words “school cafeteria food” are taking on new meaning as Chef Garrett Berdan is training a growing number of child nutrition program professionals to prepare delicious and nutritious food for Oregon students.

A series of six culinary training events are underway to help improve school cafeteria menus statewide. With support from the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council and the Oregon Department of Education, Child Nutrition Programs, this popular program is now in its eighth year.

The 2018 series includes Central Point, Nyssa, Bend, Salem, Umatilla and Hood River.

Chef Garrett Berdan, RDN, coaches child nutrition program professionals on cooking-from-scratch culinary skills, while preparing 15 different recipes. It is offered at no cost to school nutrition professionals, who are able to practice menu planning, weights and measures, knife skills and other culinary techniques.

The preparation of healthy meals for students emphasizes nutrient-rich foods, because studies show that well-nourished kids perform better in school.

“These trainings use Oregon State University Extension Food Hero recipes that meet USDA school nutrition requirements and emphasize using locally produced foods and ingredients,” said Erin Hirte, Manager of Youth Wellness for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. “Oregon farmers are helping provide creative solutions to old challenges that will benefit students now and into the future.”

Oregon’s dairy farm families and processors invest in youth wellness and education. They are involved with schools across the state, supporting programs such as this training.

 

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