Still thinking about making some new year’s resolutions? It’s not too late to kick off 2014 with a healthy start!

Here are some ideas for healthy new year’s resolutions:

-  Incorporate more whole grains into your weekly meals.
According to the Whole Grain Council, studies have shown that the consumption of whole grains may reduce the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and help with maintaining a healthy weight.

- Commit to eating one more fruit or vegetable EVERY day.
Join America’s More Matters Pledge to Fight Obesity.  Besides being delicious and colorful additions to your plate,  fruits and vegetables provide your body with necessary dietary fibers that support a healthy digestive system, are packed with vitamins and minerals and can help your body reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers.

- Do something active for 30 minutes each day!
Whether it’s going for a walk or playing basketball, aim to get out there once a day!  For some ideas check out the Obesity Action Coalition’s Winter Fitness Fun Guide.

-Reduce your daily sugar intake.
Here’s an educational video that was shared on the Mother Nature Network about the effects of sugar on your brain.

What healthy habit are you committing to in 2014?

Did you know that grapes are actually berries? Did you know that the vitamin K found in fresh fruits and vegetables plays an important role in blood clotting and bone health? The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is teaching BPS elementary students these fruit facts and many more!

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Nancy Urena, FFVP Onsite Coordinator from the JF Kennedy Elementary School in Jamaica Plain.

What is the “Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program”?

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) is a federally funded program providing additional servings of fresh fruits and vegetables to students in participating elementary schools during the school day. The goal of the FFVP is to improve children’s overall diet and create healthier eating habits to impact their present and future health.

This year FFVP is serving up healthy, fresh produce snacks 3-4 times a week in 27 Boston Public Schools.  This program is not only increasing children’s fruit and vegetable consumption, it is also expanding the variety of fruits and vegetables children experience.

So far this year students have tried pineapples, grape tomatoes, sugar snap  peas, baby bananas, satsumas and more! Stay tuned for other produce trivia, fun lessons for kids, and facts about local foods from FFVP this year!

 

 

Way back in early April, when locally grown butternut squash was still available as a storage crop in Massachusetts, the Farm to School Team Made a visit to the Tynan School in South Boston to talk with students about the homemade soup on their plates.

The soup featured butternut squash grown in Hadley, MA by farmer Joe Czjakowski, along with black beans, green beans, and corn in a cumin-spiked chicken broth.  Packed with veggies and flavor, the Farm to School Initiative’s Southwest Vegetable Soup has been a hit with students across the district.  The soup has been featured as part of Boston Public Schools’ Local Lunch Thursdays, a program which puts local vegetables on the lunch menu at every cafeteria, every Thursday!  This month, we’ll be featuring garlic-parsley roasted spring dug parsnips as well as local carrots (another storage crop) with ranch dressing.

FNS Field Supervisor, Abhijit Potdar, & FNS Farm to School Coordinator, Kim Szeto talk squash.

Needless to say, we had a blast at the Tynan School.  Students got a chance to see, touch, and learn about butternut squash.  Kids, and staff (pictured above), used the butternut squash halves to “call the farmer” and thank him for growing such delicious veggies for lunch!

Thanks to everyone at the Tynan, especially Cafeteria Manager Mayra Carrasquillo, for making Local Lunch Thursdays a success.

Check out the latest commercial from director Dougal Wilson below.  Though it’s intended to advertise Lurpack Lightest, a low-fat Danish butter, the commercial functions as a catchy and colorful tribute to eating your vegetables.

The Farm to School team has been busy serving up local produce every Thursday at all BPS Cafeteria Schools.  Before the winter break, we visited Boston Latin Academy in Roxbury where we sampled locally grown Macintosh apples.  Local apples are available all winter long thanks to cold storage facilities which preserve apples harvested in the fall.  Sweet and juicy, these apples were a favorite among students.

Last week, we visited the Dearborn Middle School in Boston’s Uphams Corner Neighborhood to sample locally grown cabbage and carrots shredded for a tasty coleslaw.  In addition to the traditional mayonnaise dressed slaw, we also sampled an Asian inspired coleslaw with a ginger-vinegar dressing.  Overall, students preferred the traditional slaw which was developed for Boston Public Schools by the Department of Food and Nutrition Services very own Milton Lashus. 

Here’s the Recipe for Milton’s Famous Slaw:

  • 1 pound shredded cabbage and carrots (shred your own or buy a prepared bag in the salad section of the supermarket)
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Toss together all ingredients in a large bowl and serve!

This week, on Thursday January 19th, we’ll be heading to the Curley K-8 School in Jamaica Plain to sample Czjakowski Farm roasted vegetable medley – a blend of butternut squash, rutabaga, and carrots

Early in December,  the Department of Food and Nutrition Services tested 3 new soup recipes all loaded with fresh Massachusetts grown produce.  We sampled the soups with elementary students, middle school students, high school students, and staff, collecting surveys and feedback from each group.  We’re hoping to menu the most popular soup + a whole wheat toasted cheese sandwich for lunch in February.

The three contenders are:

Southwest Vegetable:  Black beans, corn, green beans, and local butternut squash in a spiced tomato broth.

Vegetable Minestrone: Local carrots and collard greens along with macaroni and garbanzo beans in a rich tomato broth.

Colombian Butternut Squash and Vegetable: Local butternut squash, carrots, and rutabaga in a cilantro spiked chicken broth with corn and green beans.

All three soups pack a punch in terms of nutrition with a full serving of vegetables in each 8 ounce portion.

And the winner?  By a hair, it’s the Southwest Vegetable.  49% of all testers want to see this soup on the menu, as compared to 43% for the Colombian Butternut Squash and Vegetable, and 37% for the Vegetable Minestrone. 

Look for the Southwest Vegetable Soup on the Cafeteria Lunch Menu February 2nd as part of Local Lunch Thursdays!

Every Thursday, all BPS Cafeteria Schools serve up locally grown Massachusetts produce as part of the Farm to School Initiative.  Over the past few weeks, our Farm to School Team has visited schools on Local Lunch Thursday to sample produce and talk with students about the benefits of eating local.  Here are a few photos of our most recent visits:

We served up local broccoli at Hennigan Elementary School on Thursday November 3rd.  Paula Flaherty, the Cafeteria Manager encourages her students to eat their veggies by challenging them to show off their muscles!

 

Locally grown bosc pears were on the menu at the Timilty Middle School on Thursday November 10th.  Students LOVED the sweet pears served up by Jerrydene Odom, the Cafeteria Manager, and her entire team.

On Thursday November 17th, we visited McCormack Middle School to sample locally grown butternut squash as part of the school’s Thanksgiving meal.  Dale Feeney, the Cafeteria Manager, roasted the squash with salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little brown sugar – delicious!

Last week, on December 1st, students at Orchard Gardens K-8 sampled coleslaw prepared by Kathy Carney, the Cafeteria Manager, and her entire team.  The coleslaw is made with fresh Massachusetts grown cabbage and carrots.  We heard scores of stories about a recent fourth grade field trip to The Farm School in Athol, MA as we chatted with students about the vegetables on their plates.  The field trip clearly left a lasting impression on everyone and helped the students make the farm to table connection. 

Last week, Boston Public Schools launched salad bars in two high schools: Boston Arts Academy / Fenway High School and East Boston High School.

At Boston Arts Academy /  Fenway High School, the Salad Bar is available Monday through Thursday, and so far serving over 120 students daily.  Students are able to select their favorite vegetables along with protein choices of turkey, chicken, hummus, ham, and cheeses.  A variety of low-fat dressings are available, along with whole grain rolls and pita bread. 

Lynder Thomas and her staff are very excited about this new addition to their menu and thrilled with the feedback from students.  The administrative and custodial staff is also very enthusiastic and cooperative and has worked with Debra Korzec, Field Coordinator, and the entire Department of Food and Nutrition Services in making this new addition a success!

Over at East Boston High School, the salad bar initiative was initially undertaken by the Healthy Hood Club, a youth organization which was launched last year by Cait Van Damm and Alison Smizer of the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center.  The Healthy Hood Club applied to the Salad Bars to Schools Foundation last spring for the $2500.00 needed to purchase a salad bar for their school. 

In a surprising turn of events, the Salad Bars to Schools Foundation approved more salad bars than they had money to fund, meaning that East Boston High and the Healthy Hood Club would need to find alternative funding to make the salad bar a reality at their school. 

The Healthy Hood Club turned to Cafeteria Manger, Jennie Hall, and Field Supervisor, Patty Courteau, for help.  In collaboration with the school administration along with Shamil Mohammed, the Interim Director of Food and Nutrition Services at BPS, Jennie and Patty were able to set up a self-service “salad line” with equipment already available in the school cafeteria. 

So far, the salad line at East Boston High School has been a tremendous success.  Over 200 students were served the first day, and that number is on the rise! 

 

The Boston Public Schools Farm to School Project was featured in two Boston Globe articles from Tuesday November 1, 2011! Both articles were written by Globe Correspondent Michael Prager, author of Fat Boy, Thin Man, which chronicles his own transformation from obesity to health. 

The first article, “Changing Students Lunches, One Tray at a Time,” looks at the move towards scratch cooking and farm grown ingredients in several Massachusetts school districts, including Boston.  In the article, Prager features Boston Public Schools’ very own Derric Edwards, the Cafeteria Manager at the Dearborn Middle School, along with Kim Szeto, our Farm to School Coordinator, and Sadie Richards-Brown, our FoodCorps representative, cooking up and sampling locally grown collard greens during a recent lunch in Dorchester.  Prager explains, “Brown is showing off collard sprouts, which are unknown to students.  Students are surprised that the chopped broad leaves on their plates had such small beginnings.”  Read the full article on boston.com.

The second article, “Hadley Farmer’s Business is Growing Fast,” profiles Joe Czajkowski of Czajkowski Farm in Hadley, Massachusetts.  Czajkowski Farm is a major player in the Massachusetts Farm to School Project and one of our main sources of locally grown produce at Boston Public Schools.  Read all about the farm’s operations on boston.com

Sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), National Food Day aims to bring together Americans from diverse backgrounds – parents, teachers, and students; health professionals, community organizers, and local officials; chefs, school lunch providers, and eaters of all stripes – to advocate for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way. 

Boston Public Schools is celebrating National Food Day with a special menu at all Cafeteria Schools featuring locally grown apples, from Lanni Orchards in Lunenburg, MA, as well as locally grown butternut squash and green beans from Czajkowski Farms in Hadley, MA.  We’ll also be serving baked pollock with lemon-butter, paprika, and parsley, a chef developed recipe which was featured at our back to school training for Cafeteria Managers. 

In addition to the special lunch menu, individual Boston Public Schools are marking the day with customized celebrations including local produce sampling and school garden activities. 

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