From White House Kitchen Garden to State Dining Room: The 2014 Garden Harvest
Yesterday, the First Lady joined Secretary Vilsack, school nutrition directors from across the country, and the same local Washington, D.C. students who participated in the garden planting in April, to harvest the summer crop from the White House Kitchen Garden. Due to inclement weather, the event was moved inside, but not without bringing the students down to the garden before the event to see the fruits of their labor. They were certainly impressed with the growth of the delicious foods they helped to plant.
All the schools that participated in the event have successfully implemented the school nutrition standards put in place by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. In addition, the nutrition directors in attendance have also championed school lunch standards in their districts through creative ideas and strategies. Today, 90 percent of schools are meeting these modern nutrition standards, and because of the standards, our nation’s children are now consuming more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
First Lady Michelle Obama helps prepare food from the White House Kitchen Garden with local students who helped plant the garden in the spring, during an event in the State Dining Room of the White House, June 12, 2014. At right is Dora Rivas, Executive Director, Food and Child Nutrition Services Department, Dallas Independent School. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)
“For millions of kids in this country, their main source of nutrition comes from the food that they get in their schools,” Mrs. Obama said. And she continued, “it’s up to us to make sure that these kids get the best food that they can get into their stomachs because it’s not just about nutrition, it’s about their academic success.”
The nutrition directors who participated in the event have been leaders on this issue and understand the importance of the meals that are served to kids in their schools. Dora Rivas, the Executive Director of Food and Child Nutrition Services in Dallas, Texas has taken a proactive approach to promoting healthier menus in her district through incorporating student inspired menus and brining in chefs to provide opportunities for students to try new fruits and vegetables. Thanks to the district’s commitment to the health of its students, all of their elementary and middle schools are meeting USDA’s HealthierUS Challenge criteria.
And, in Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Florida, Lora Gilbert, the Senior Director of Food and Nutrition Services, has worked with the students to understand what healthy foods they enjoy and has incorporated creativity into their meals to make them more appealing to the students. Thanks to this work, the participation in the meals program has increased this year.
In West Virginia, they got right to work in 2008 after the Institute of Medicine released recommendations for food served and sold in schools. Richard Goff, the Executive Director of the Office of Child Nutrition in West Virginia Department of Education, has worked with schools across the state to implement healthy standards, and now all schools in the state no longer sell sugar-sweetened beverages or junk foods. West Virginia also works to cook more in their schools to ensure more fresh fruits and vegetables are incorporated into their menus
Each of the nutrition directors joined right in with the First Lady, Secretary Vilsack, and the students to prepare a delicious Spring Kitchen Garden Chopped Salad that included lettuce and other veggies that came straight from the garden. Following the preparation, they all sat down together to enjoy the meal together. Find the recipe here and try it out this weekend!