The Brighton Report – February 26

The Brighton Report is Brighton Training Group’s weekly news show. It’s a fast paced run down of the three most notable news stories of the week in child nutrition, school nutrition, CACFP, SFSP and other child nutrition programs.

Text Version of The Brighton Report: 

  1. The NFL scores another victory for child nutrition
  2. The USDA introduces new programs to reduce food waste
  3. And, no more fighting over broccoli –  there’s a better way to get your kids to eat more vegetables

And more…

It’s Friday, February 26, and this is the Brighton Report.


The NFL scores another victory for child nutrition

The season may be over, but the NFL scores another victory for the more than 30 million children who rely on the National School Lunch and Breakfast program.

In partnership with the USDA and the National Dairy Council, the NFL announced that 35 million dollars in grants are available to help schools upgrade their kitchen equipment. The need for up-to-date equipment and adequate appliances is a big obstacle to providing quality nutrition for school kids.

Some 88% of schools lack at least one piece of equipment that they need to be able to serve healthier meals. With better refrigeration and cooking equipment, schools will be able to replace fried foods with baked items, serve more dairy and fresh produce, and create new menu items like healthy smoothies.

This is not the first time the NFL has partnered with USDA and the Dairy Council to improve children’s health. In 2008, the Fuel Up to Play 60 program was established to encourage children to lead healthier lives through physical activity and better nutrition.  Fuel Up to Play 60 has helped to make child wellness part of the game plan in over 73,000 schools across the country.


The USDA introduces new programs to reduce food waste

The USDA has introduced several programs to combat the growing problem of food waste, including a new set of consumer tools, targeted loans and financial investments, and laboratory research.

The United States produces 430 billion pounds of food each year, making it one of the largest food production sy   stems in the world.  That’s the good news.  But the bad news is that nearly 1/3 of the available food supply goes uneaten – an estimated 160  BILLION dollars worth of food each year.

Although it is difficult to measure the amount, retailers, consumers, and restaurants toss away a huge amount of good quality food that is beyond its “best buy” or “sell by” date.  

To combat this waste, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has updated it storage and labeling information to help consumers identify food that is safe to eat even if it is past its “sell by” date.

The USDA, in partnership with Cornell University, and the Food Marketing Institute,  has also created the Foodkeeper App, which offers users valuable storage advice about more than 400 different food and beverage items. With the app, you can note the date of purchase of your items and receive notification when they are nearing the end of their recommended storage time.

If farmers don’t have adequate storage for their freshly harvested food, that food is lost.  The USDA has expanded its Farm Storage Facility loan program to cover low cost loans for storage facilities for all kinds of farmer  s. Better storage prevents damage and ensures that food will end up on the grocery shelf and not the waste pile.

And once that food hits the grocery store, USDA scientists want it to stay fresh longer. Recently, researchers found genetic markers in lettuce that would enable cut lettuce to stay fresh for a month rather than wilt on the shelf within days.


No more fighting over broccoli –  there’s a better way to get your kids to eat more vegetables

The best way to get kids to eat more vegetables may be to just teach them why it’s good for them.

Getting kids to eat vegetables is an age-old problem. But, recent research suggests there might be a new solution. According to psychologists at Stanford University, children develop healthier eating habits, including eating more vegetables, if they understand why certain foods are good for them and how those foods will help their bodies function.

People often assume that explanations of complex, abstract concepts will be too confusing for young children. But, according to the researchers, children have a natural curiosity and want to understand how things work. The study sought to harness that curiosity by creating a framework to help kids understand the importance of healthy eating.

Researchers developed a series of five storybooks, each designed to illustrate a key concept about nutrition, such as the five food groups, the digestive system and how nutrients keep the body healthy and strong.  

A group of preschoolers, aged 4 to 5, were divided into four classrooms. A different book was read each week in two of the classrooms during snack time for about three months. The two other classrooms had snack time as usual.

The psychologists found that the children who heard the stories more than doubled their voluntary intake of vegetables while the amount of veggies eaten by the other children stayed about the same.

What sets this study apart from others is that the ch   ildren weren’t trained to specifically eat more vegetables. Rather, the focus was on explaining to the children why their bodies need different kinds of healthy foods.

More research is needed to find out whether the gains in healthy eating would translate to other mealtimes, including at home, and, more importantly, how long they would last. 
And, that’s the report for this week. Thanks for watching. I’m Lauren.