Friday, April 17, 2009

Come see Organic Fresh Fingers at the YMCA Healthy Kids Day!

YMCA Healthy Kids Day
Saturday, April 18, 2009
10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
YMCA - Downtown Salem, Oregon

Bring the kids and join over 300 other families for this fun filled event. Play games, meet kid friendly businesses and try samples of our Fresh N' Local foods!

Welcome Molalla River Academy Charter School!

We are so excited to serve our newest customer, Molalla River Academy Charter School! The school will begin serving the FRESH N' LOCAL meal program in the 2009-2010 school year. The school also plans to have a garden and work hard to implement strategies to eliminate waste around meal times and Organic Fresh Fingers will be there to support them in their efforts. Check out this amazing school!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Program offers kids healthful food choices - Statesman Journal

Program offers kids healthful food choices
Jeanine Stice
April 16, 2009
Last week the news hit, "1 in 5 preschoolers is obese, study says."
This should come as no surprise to pediatricians. They've seen the overweight preschoolers in their exam rooms. They didn't need another study to tell them many are off the chart when it comes to their body mass index.
The great thing about a child's body mass index is they have time and growth in their favor. Many times by simply maintaining their weight, a child's height will increase and they are no longer classified as overweight.
Slowing their weight gain is key. Families who've successfully supported their child's efforts at weight maintenance frequently benefit from the coordinated and combined efforts of pediatricians, public health nurses and WIC dietitians, as well as having the school environments in sync with the recommendations.
Through these efforts families learn to live healthier lives. They play more and watch television less. They quit offering Kool-Aid or sports drinks and begin offering water. They learn which foods are more nutrient rich than others and what to order when eating at a fast-food restaurant. They cut back on the amount of fat used to prepare family meals and offer at least two types of vegetables at the meal.
If the child is fortunate, their school food environment further supports these changes. It's estimated children consume 35 percent of their daily food intake at school, more if they are also relying on the school to feed them breakfast. What's on school menus matter.
Here in the Mid-Valley, preschoolers participating in Mid Willamette Valley Community Action Agency Head Start program enjoy menus in line with fighting pediatric obesity.
Food Service Supervisor Connie Davidson has worked hard creating meals that are low in added sugar and saturated fat that rely in part on USDA funds.
Lunch menus include vegetarian chili with cheese, cornbread, peaches with yogurt and nonfat milk, or beef stir fry, yakisoba noodles, Mandarin oranges, nonfat milk. Breakfast menus offer oatmeal, apple slices, and nonfat milk, or muffin, Oregon berry mix and nonfat milk. Chocolate milk is not an option, and cheeseburgers, pizza, macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets aren't offered often.
A poster at one site shows the impact these menus can have on a child's palate. Kids listed their favorite foods on the poster. Believe it or not, they included foods such as broccoli, chicken, yogurt, banana, peaches, apples and rice. In addition the menus are well received by parents and staff.
Another example of school menus in line with the battle against pediatric obesity are those created by Evan Remington, president of Salem-based Organic Fresh Fingers for Trillium Charter School in Portland. Her menus include options like, Hummus Wrap, Organic Fruit & Organic Vegetable, and Exciting Eggplant Parmesan, Organic Fruit & Organic Vegetable. According to the school's parent newsletter, contracting with Organic Fresh Fingers as part of the pilot Farm to School program has reduced food waste by 50 percent. Kids really are eating eggplant and hummus when it's not up against pizza and chicken nuggets on the menu.
Unfortunately not all school environments provide these types of menus. Some offer traditional "junk" food such as cheeseburgers, cheese nachos, pizza and chicken nuggets as frequently as 25 times in 22 days.
Parents of preschoolers want to know what they need to do to raise healthy kids. Many are trying to do the right thing and seek out the support they need to improve their child's health. School menus should support their efforts.
The latest stats on preschool obesity make this all the more urgent.
Jeanine Stice writes about healthy living in the Mid-Valley. She is a registered dietitian employed by Nutrition Etcetera, is a member of the Oregon Dietetic Association and holds an Adult Weight Management certification. She can be reached at

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

School Nutrition Association Press Release

Report: More Children Eating Healthy School Meals During Economic DownturnMore than 79% of School Districts Report an Increase in the Number of Free School Lunches Served
ALEXANDRIA, Va., (December 11, 2008) – High unemployment rates and families’ proactive efforts to save money have resulted in significantly more students eating lunch at school. According to Saved by the Lunch Bell: As Economy Sinks, School Nutrition Program Participation Rises, a report released today by the School Nutrition Association, nationwide an average of 425,000 more students are participating in free and reduced school lunch programs. More than three quarters of districts surveyed reported an increase in free school lunches provided, meaning the effects are being felt in districts across the country. Because the school-based child nutrition programs are entitlement programs, federal reimbursements will be provided to schools for each meal served; however, the amount of reimbursement provided continues to fall short of the actual costs associated with producing each school meal.
The survey of over 130 school nutrition directors from 38 states found that 79% of districts saw an increase in the number of free lunches served while nearly 65% saw an increase in the number of reduced price lunches served over last year. Participation by students paying the full price for school lunch decreased in 48% of districts, reflecting a potential shift in the economic status of many American families. Almost 60% of survey respondents reported an overall increase in National School Lunch Program (NSLP) participation, with over 69% reporting an increase in participation in the School Breakfast Program (SBP) in spite of a slight decline in school enrollment this school year compared to last school year.
While the report is another indicator of grim economic news, SNA president Dr. Katie Wilson, SNS, emphasized that, “this year, when hunger is more common, more students are able to eat a balanced, nutritious meal at school.” Meals served under the NSLP must meet nutrition guidelines based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, therefore no more than 30% of calories can come from fat and less than 10% from saturated fat. School lunches provide one-third of the Recommended Dietary Allowances of protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, calcium and calories over the course of one week of menus. Students who eat school lunches consume fewer calories from fat than students who bring lunch from home, according to research conducted by Dr. Alice Jo Rainville of Eastern Michigan University. Additionally, school lunches contain three times as many dairy products, twice as much fruit and seven times the vegetable amounts compared to lunches from home.
As school nutrition professionals feed the increasing number of students participating, 88% of school nutrition directors reported this past August that the NSLP reimbursement of $2.57 per free lunch served was not sufficient for their program to cover the costs of producing a meal. Based on an estimated average cost to prepare a school lunch (including labor, food and other inputs) of about $2.92, and revenue of anywhere from $2.52 to $2.77 to offset that cost (from federal reimbursements, commodity entitlement and the average price paid for a school lunch) school nutrition programs are experiencing a potential loss of at least $4.5 million per school day based on 30 million school lunches provided. School nutrition directors continue to call on Congress to enact legislation, through an economic stimulus package or child nutrition reauthorization, that would provide an adequate meal reimbursement to ensure nutritious school meals continue to be provided to children.
Any child at a participating school may purchase a meal through the National School Lunch Program. Children from families with incomes at or below 130% of the poverty level are eligible for free meals. Those with incomes between 130% and 185% of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals, for which students can be charged no more than 40 cents. During the current school year, 130% of the poverty level is $27,560 for a family of four; 185% is $39,220). Children from families with incomes over 185% of poverty pay a full price, though their meals are still subsidized to some extent. Local school boards generally set their own prices for full-price (paid) meals, with the national average at $2.08 after many districts raised their meal prices earlier this year. Paid school lunch still represents a bargain when compared to the national average cost to prepare a lunch from home, estimated to be $3.41. School nutrition programs are required to operate their meal services as non-profit programs.
The School Nutrition Association is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals. Founded in 1946, SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children’s health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.

Eat Your Vegetables: Preschoolers Love Vegetables With Catchy Names Like 'X-Ray Vision Carrots' And 'Tomato Bursts'

ScienceDaily (Mar. 4, 2009) — Do you have a picky preschooler who's avoiding their vegetables? A new Cornell University study shows that giving vegetables catchy new names – like X-Ray Vision Carrots and Tomato Bursts – left preschoolers asking for more.
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Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Plants & Animals

Square foot gardening
South Beach diet
When 186 four-year olds were given carrots called "X-ray Vision Carrots" ate nearly twice as much as they did on the lunch days when they were simply labeled as "carrots." The Robert Wood Johnson-funded study also showed the influence of these names might persist. Children continued to eat about 50% more carrots even on the days when they were no longer labeled. The new findings were presented on Monday at the annual meeting of the School Nutrition Association in Washington DC.
"Cool names can make for cool foods," says lead author Brian Wansink. "Whether it be 'power peas' or 'dinosaur broccoli trees,' giving a food a fun name makes kids think it will be more fun to eat. And it seems to keep working – even the next day," said Wansink.
Similar results have been found with adults. A restaurant study showed that when the Seafood Filet was changed to "Succulent Italian Seafood Filet," sales increased by 28% and taste rating increased by 12%. "Same food, but different expectations, and a different experience," said Wansink, author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Eat More Than We Think."
Although the study was conducted in pre-schools, the researchers believe the same naming tricks can work with children. "I've been using this with my kids," said researcher Collin Payne, "Whatever sparks their imagination seems to spark their appetite."
Adapted from materials provided by Cornell Food & Brand Lab, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.