Ed. Note: This is a cross post from Homeroom, the official blog of the U.S. Department of Education. You can find the original post here.
Reading over the summer makes students more prepared when the new school year begins. That’s why the U.S. Department of Education (ED) makes an annual call to action that encourages more reading time out of school, especially over the summer months. Two events held in August celebrated reading and physical activity and aimed to increase awareness about the critical importance of summer learning.
In 51 cities across the country from Anchorage to San Juan, young people are charting their own paths in America’s great outdoors. They are cleaning beaches in San Diego, planting gardens in Houston, paddling rivers in Minneapolis and dissecting invasive lionfish in Miami.
My name is Irene Ledo. I have attended Philip's Academy Charter School in Newark, NJ since second grade. Honestly, I adore the way my school teaches life lessons, and one of the major lessons we learn is how to live healthy lives. From growing to cooking to eating, our school does it all. Through our EcoSpaces Education program, our school finds amazing ways to teach about the variety of different types of fruits and vegetables, one of them is actually growing them! We grow food on our rooftop garden and in our indoor growing lab, cook in our teaching kitchen and eat healthy meals in our Dining Room.
The TODAY Show Debuts the Garden on the Go! with Fruits and Vegetables from the White House Kitchen Garden
Earlier this year, First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off her American Garden Tour, where she surprised students and community members throughout Washington, DC, and later, traveled to Burke County, Georgia and Newark, New Jersey to visit schools with inspiring garden programs. The TODAY Show has been following along throughout the First Lady’s visits, and Al Roker joined in the fun during Mrs. Obama’s stops in Georgia and New Jersey. Inspired by the White House Kitchen Garden and the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, Al announced that TODAY would be planting their own garden.
Today, the Obama Administration is announcing four final rules that implement key provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) and build on the tremendous progress schools across the country have already made. Integral to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to raise a healthier generation, the rules, including Smart Snacks and Local School Wellness Policies, will ensure that children have access to healthy snacks in school, consistent nutrition standards for the foods marketed and served in schools, and integrity across the school meals programs.
Last week, the First Lady welcomed 56 incredible young chefs from all over the country to the White House for the fifth annual Kids’ “State Dinner.” Just like any other state dinner, the room was filled with stunning décor, the meal was served on White House china, and "The President's Own" United States Marine Band played in the background. The only difference? The guests of honor were kids!
The East Room of the White House glowed with smiles as kid chefs dined with and heard from the First Lady, enjoyed a menu of their own healthy recipes prepared by White House chefs, and were treated to an electrifying performance from the cast of The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic!
Here are our top five moments from that inspiring, fun and delicious day!
“I thought of this dish because it has a lot of Alaska elements in it, like the blueberries I eat off the bush in summer while hiking, and the halibut we catch while boating. The rest of the components seemed to blend in perfectly with the dish. The tartness of the blueberries goes amazing with the halibut and crunch of the lettuce. I decided to pair this dish with a smoothie, because I’ve seen school lunches served with chocolate milk with so much sugar, and I thought a nice refreshing healthy smoothie made with fruits and a vegetable would be the perfect thing to wash down this meal.”
- Denali Schijvens, Age 9, the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winner from Alaska
“I love cooking and I love my vegetables. Avocado and spinach are two of my favorites and they are also good for your body. I have been making this recipe for a while but made it a bit more green. Some of the veggies and fruits were purchased at my local farmers market, along with the honey. I am the daughter of an Air Force member and Air Force veteran. Cooking is one of my many passions.”
- Lael Jefferson, Age 11, the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winner from Alabama
“In American Samoa, we eat taro and breadfruit as our starch. We eat it with coconut cream and other food. My recipe has taro and breadfruit, two local foods found in the Pacific. We also have lots of coconut trees and coconut cream. It tastes great together.”
- Amelie Chen, Age 9, the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winner from American Samoa
“Much of the food we eat is inspired by southwest flavors, which is why I chose to create a healthy southwest dish loaded with power foods for energy. Due to the beautiful weather in Arizona, we grill outdoors year round, so I wanted to include grilled chicken and corn. Our family is trying to be healthier in our food choices, so I suggested to my mom that we substitute white rice with cauliflower ‘rice,’ and when we mixed it with the quinoa, I couldn't even tell it wasn't white rice!”
- Scarlet Summers, Age 10, the 2016 Healthy Lunchtme Challenge winner from Arizona