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chalkboard and newspaperEach month, our staff reads hundreds of media reports on the subject of school nutrition. We curate our favorites in a monthly blog post we call, “In the News.” Highlighting positive stories about the great things going on in school cafeterias helps us in many ways: providing inspiration, connecting school nutrition professionals from across the country, and promoting those programs and individuals who are taking the extra step to make their school nutrition program the very best it can be

Fuel Up to Play 60

There is something about football season that makes Fuel Up to Play 60 even more fun and exciting! We love to read stories about NFL players visiting schools and encouraging kids to eat a healthy school breakfast, and to get 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day; members of the Tennessee Titans recently visited with students in Nashville to talk about ways to make healthy lifestyle changes. And in a bit of a twist, student-athlete Jessica Potter invited her brother-in-law, minor league baseball player Jerry Sullivan, to speak at her high school about the importance of a healthy diet and physical activity—we love the personal touch this Fuel Up to Play 60 student leader added to her event!

Another Fuel Up to Play 60 headline popping up in our Google alerts features “Hometown Grants,” developed by FUTP60, which gives each NFL team the opportunity to award a school district $10,000 awards to promote healthy lifestyles. Recently, both the San Diego Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers have donated $10,000 Hometown Grants to California schools.

Finally, we’ve seen some terrific stories about schools combining Fuel Up to Play 60 with seasonal festivals and activities to help raise awareness of, and interest in, the program. In Maine, the Ridgeview Community School Field Day was sponsored by FUTP60 and the Main Dairy Council, while students in Peoria, Arizona, are combining their Fuel Up to Play 60 kickoff event with a free Harvest Fest.

Don’t forget you still have until Wednesday, November 5, 2014 to apply for Fuel Up to Play 60 funds! Your school could be awarded up to $4000 to benefit your school breakfast program—apply now!

School Breakfast

When it comes to school breakfast, the keyword is creativity! We always have our eyes peeled for stories featuring innovative breakfast ideas. At Elyria city Schools in Ohio, school nutrition staff worked with students and vendors to improve school breakfast at the elementary, middle, and high schools. By making small tweaks to the menu to feature student favorites, and moving assembly to the front of the house, participation at the high school has increased by 100-125 breakfasts per day; breakfast-in-the-classroom is increasing participation at the elementary and middle school level as well—it’s up 55 percent at Lake Elementary!

Another story that caught our eye is this one about grab-n-go breakfast in Granby, Massachusetts. Last year, school nurse Sarah Smith noticed an increase in the number of students visiting her clinic complaining of hunger; Smith brought the issue to her administrators, and grab-n-go breakfast was proposed as a solution. The idea for school breakfast doesn’t always come from the school nutrition staff, and we love the way this school nurse took the initiative to seek out a solution for students!

Farm-to-School Month

We couldn’t possibly feature every inspirational Farm-to-School month story we read in October—but we sure wish we could! Earlier this month we brought you our own story about the farm-to-school efforts being made in Alaska, which are enhanced through educational programming provided through UAF Cooperative Extension Services. Are you leveraging your local extension services in your school nutrition programs?

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service has terrific farm-to-school resources, including a videos and webinars page, which we highly recommend. You should also peek in at the Let’s Move! blog to see what was happening in the White House garden during farm-to-school month. Not sure where to start with farm-to-school in your district or cafeteria? Partner with local farmers for a taste test, like La Crosse School District and Ecker’s Farm in Wisconsin to gauge student interest!

Do you have a favorite school nutrition story to share? Leave us a link in the comments, or share with us on Facebook and Twitter!

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