Tag Archives: education

Improving School Meals for Oregon Students

Clear Lake kick off school lunch

by DeDe Poynor, Oregon State University Dietetic Intern

Deanna PoynorDid you know school meals have been getting a makeover? It’s true – a lot has changed since the National School Lunch Program began in 1946. Here are some examples.

Current federal requirements help students eat a well-balanced diet with the nutrients they need as they grow. Schools must offer a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the week. They also give students whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products. Including more of the good stuff and cutting excessive salt, sugar, fat and calories helps develop healthy eating habits now and in the future.

Another role of school meals is to address child hunger. Oregon is the sixth most food insecure state in the country, with 1 in 6 households unsure of where their next meal will come from. Those kids often do not get the nutrients they need to be healthy and succeed in the classroom. Due to this, many schools around the state are looking at options outside of lunch, including breakfast and summer meal programs, to get students the food they need.

As the name implies, federal meal requirements must be met. However, deciding what to offer and how to prepare the food is up to the schools. It can be hard to find recipes and items that meet federal requirements. It is also hard to find menu items that most of the kids will eat. That is why Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council and Oregon Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs have joined forces to offer statewide culinary trainings for school nutrition staff. These trainings give tips and tools for offering things that kids will like, including local fruits and vegetables.

Oregon has been a national leader for the Farm to School Program, connecting Oregon schools with local farmers. With funding provided by the state legislature, this program has given kids opportunities to try locally grown and processed fruits and vegetables, as well as meat, dairy and whole grains. At the same time, the Farm to School Program has helped the economy by supporting Oregon businesses.

School meal programs continue to evolve with the support of students, teachers, administrators, parents and communities. School nutrition staff are bringing creative solutions to kitchens and cafeterias that maximize the available funding while keeping Oregon children full with nutritious and delicious foods.

Milk Builds Strong Schools in Oregon

MLK School Jacksons_2017

Remember those old videos of Ed Sullivan introducing the Beatles? Well, it wasn’t quite that boisterous when the students of Martin Luther King K-8 School in Portland learned that they were selected to receive a brand new iPad Learning Lab. But it was close.

The donation was made possible through a charitable Jacksons Food Stores program called “Milk Builds Strong Schools,” which set aside five percent of milk gallon sales in stores throughout Oregon from October 21, 2016 to January 5, 2017. The program is supported by Dairy Farmers of Washington, Darigold and Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council.

The Learning Lab includes 10 new iPad Pro devices with Apple Pencils and a mobile cart that can store, charge, and sync up to 30 iPad devices. This was the second year a school in Oregon was selected, the fourth year for schools in Washington and the first year ever for schools in Utah and Idaho. Martin Luther King K-8 was randomly selected in a drawing of all public schools in Oregon.

“Our partnership with the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council allowed us to create a campaign that benefits an Oregon school and promotes education through technology,” said Cory Jackson, president of Jacksons Food Stores.

Kiara Single, Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador, participated in the assembly and helped with the big announcement. She shared some facts about dairy farming in Oregon with students, and said it was fitting that milk made the donation possible since this year marks the 20th anniversary of milk as Oregon’s Official State Beverage.

Adopt a Farmer Program Includes Oregon Dairies

Each year, Oregon dairy farmers participate in a program called Adopt a Farmer through Oregon Aglink to help promote agriculture through educating middle school students. Five Oregon dairy farm families are currently participating in this year’s program giving students the opportunity to experience a dairy farm firsthand.

The five dairies include:

  • Harrold’s Dairy in Creswell
  • Cloud Cap Farms in Boring
  • Mayfield Dairy in Aurora
  • Veeman’s Dairy in St. Paul
  • Willamette Valley Cheese in Salem

In addition to offering tours of their farms, these dairy farmers visit their adoptive classroom two to three times throughout the school year to engage students in the science behind farming. They participate in activities related to soil, water, conservation, irrigation, genetics, the farm-to-table continuum and economics.

Learn more about one of Oregon’s dairy farmers, Melissa Collman of Cloud Cap Farms and her participation in the program.

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RELATED LINKS:

Adopt a Farmer

Dairy Meets Classroom: Melissa Collman of Cloud Cap Farms

Cloud Cap Dairy, Boring, OR

Cloud Cap Dairy on Facebook

Cloud Cap Dairy on Twitter

Cloud Cap Dairy on Instagram

Oregon Celebrates School Wellness Awards

oregon-school-wellness-award-banner

Each year for the past decade, Oregon School Wellness Awards have recognized outstanding schools for their efforts to improve child health by connecting nutrition, physical activity and academic achievement. On the tenth anniversary of the awards, the Oregon Department of Education announced three new schools as recipients for 2017.

  • Adams Elementary, Corvallis School District
  • Milwaukie High School, North Clackamas School District
  • St. Paul Elementary, St. Paul School District

In partnership with Oregon Department of Education and Nutrition Council of Oregon, the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council serves as the title sponsor for these awards. Each award recipient receives a $2,500 cash prize, a banner, and a certificate of recognition presented at special school assemblies.

“We are excited about how this award will help shape our future wellness efforts,” said Kylie Pybus, MPH, Health and Wellness Coordinator at Milwaukie High School.

Schools are judged and selected based on criteria including school wide wellness policies and initiatives, physical education and physical activity, school meal programs and community involvement. Each one of this year’s winners were lauded for improving their standards and showing positive results in healthy student and staff behavior.

“There is clear data that student health and student learning are connected,” said Joyce Dougherty, Child Nutrition Programs Director for the Oregon Department of Education.

Oregon schools that are actively working to improve student and staff wellness are encouraged to apply for next year’s awards. To learn more, visit the wellness page on the Oregon Department of Education website.

Back to School: Literacy Project Helps Bridge Gap

Mary Swearingen and class

by Mary Swearingen, dairy nutrition consultant and Oregon Dairy Women member

Twenty years ago, I was in the third grade when my cousin (a county dairy princess at the time) visited my class to give a presentation — it was the same year milk became the Official State Beverage of Oregon. Twenty years later, I returned to read to three first grade classes at Mary Eyre Elementary School in Salem on April 12.

Mary Swearingen AITC Lit Project

The opportunity was made possible by a literacy project organized by Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom. In all, 72 students listened attentively and discussed where our dairy products come from, how dairy is part of a well-balanced diet, and everything our farmers do to care for their cows.

I work as a nutrition consultant for a feed company in Harrisburg, and because the literacy project activity focused on nutrition, I brought feed samples with me and explained that I help farmers create balanced diets for their cows.  Students got to see and smell alfalfa hay, flaked corn and almond hulls.

We talked about how cows are amazing at recycling byproducts, or leftovers from food production. I feel that it was important to volunteer for this year’s literacy project because the book answered the ever so popular question: does chocolate milk come from brown cows? A common misnomer among consumers, the book illustrates that all breeds of dairy cows produce white milk.

Mary Swearingen and cowIt was a really great opportunity to help bridge the gap between the farm and the classroom. After all, our milk and dairy products don’t just come from the dairy case. As a treat for all the students (and teachers) I brought 75 pints of chocolate milk with me, and the students all loved it.

At the end of the presentation, I opened the floor to questions and by far my favorite was from a concerned student asking, “in the middle of the day when the farmer is trying to sleep, doesn’t he get tired of hearing those cows moo all the time?”

I grew up as a city kid, but spent most of my school breaks working on my aunt and uncle’s dairy in Stayton picking berries and feeding calves. It didn’t take long to develop a passion and love of the farm, to see the hard work and effort it takes to dairy was quite literally a life-changing experience.

I went from one extreme to the other, wanting to be a teacher to Veterinary Medicine, and ultimately to animal nutrition.  I got involved in 4-H Livestock my freshman year of high school and participated in the Oregon Dairy Women’s Dairy Princess Program. These experiences have led me to see the importance of educating our youth and advocating for our farmers and ranchers.


The Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council proudly sponsors Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom’s 2017 Literacy Project. More information is available at oregonaitc.org/programs/literacy-project.

School Culinary Trainings Spice Up the Menu

Culinary Trainings with Garrett Berdan

Sponsored by the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council and the Oregon Department of Education, Child Nutrition Programs, a new series of five popular culinary training events are underway to help improve school cafeteria menus for Oregon students.

For the past seven years, Chef Garrett Berdan, RDN, has been coaching child nutrition program professionals at regional trainings on cooking innovative, healthy meals using nutrient-rich, local foods. At the training events, participants prepare and taste test 15 actual recipes they can bring back to their students.

The preparation of healthy meals for students emphasizes nutrient-rich foods, because studies show that well-nourished kids perform better at school. Participants practice menu planning, weights and measures, knife skills and other culinary techniques.

This year’s series includes stops in Klamath Falls, Ontario, Lincoln City, Central Point and Aurora, Oregon. Trainings were held last year in Albany, Hermiston, McMinnville, Central Point, Salem and La Grande. Schools and childcare programs in each region are invited to participate in the two day training free of charge.

“Using quick, tasty and healthy Food Hero recipes and a little creativity, schools can really spice up their menus without breaking the bank,” said Crista Hawkins, RDN, LD, Director of School Programs for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. “We’ve invited a lot of guests to come and try the good food at these events, and they’re consistently impressed.”

As part of an ongoing commitment to youth wellness and education, Oregon’s 228 dairy farm families and 29 dairy processors are involved with schools across the state, supporting programs such as this training.

RELATED STORIES:

Ontario Culinary Workshop FUTP60 Yogurt Station
Ontario Argus Observer, April 9

Nutritious cooking: Child nutrition programs get healthy refresher course
Herald and News, March 21

Cooking Up New and Nutritious Recipes for School Kids

Umatilla Learning Connection Town Hall Reaps Positive Results

Families gathered at a local elementary school in Umatilla last month to learn how to cook healthy recipes that they could make together at home. It was a free class offered by Umatilla School District, Umatilla-Morrow Head Start and Oregon State University Extension Service; and it was precisely the kind of community collaboration that the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council had in mind when it organized the Umatilla Learning Connection Town Hall.

At the town hall meeting last October, local community leaders from education, school nutrition, extension, public health, health care and agriculture joined together to discuss how nutrition, physical activity, health and education impact student success. Together, the participants are strengthening local networks in Umatilla and Morrow counties and engaging a broad range of stakeholders in supporting the proven link between child health and wellness and education.

“The support for our students from teachers, child nutrition, after school and community programs has a clear and direct impact on their success,” said Heidi Sipe, Superintendent, Umatilla School District.

The town hall highlighted best practices in nutrition and physical activity and put the spotlight on Umatilla School District for their outstanding commitment to child health and success with innovative approaches to ensuring all kids are nourished for learning. Participants walked the new fitness trail at Umatilla High School, which was partially funded by the Fuel Up to Play 60 program and built by committed community members.

Town hall participants were asked to commit to school and community wellness with time and resources in the next school year and beyond. They each identified 90-day goals to keep the connections active and further their shared goal of advancing community health.  Participants will reconvene in one year to share their successes and continue their commitment.

“We need to do everything we can to stay connected and ensure the success of our students, families and community,” said Kevin Campbell, CEO, Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization.

In addition to the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, the Umatilla Learning Connection Town Hall was supported by: Umatilla School District, Umatilla County, OSU Extension SNAP-Ed, Intermountain ESD, Good Shepherd Health Care System, Umatilla-Morrow Head Start, Oregon Department of Education (ODE) Child Nutrition Program and ODE Office of Teaching and Learning.