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As one of Bravo's “Top Chef Masters” and author of Lorena Garcia's New Latin Classics: Fresh Ideas for Favorite Dishes, I’m thrilled to introduce this MomsRising Blog Carnival – Making the School Day Healthier. Healthy and delicious foods are my passion so I’m very happy that kids this year will have more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in school meals because of new standards introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Below you’ll find links to lots of other great posts about healthy foods for kids. Join the conversation by leaving a comment on a blog that inspires you! ¡Salud!

Talib Kweli, "Eat to Live!"
"Nearly 23 million children in the United State are overweight or obese, making them more susceptible to heart disease, high blood pressure, and type II diabetes. This is a crisis that we need to tackle on all fronts."

Alison Crockett, "Chocolate Will Never Lead To Broccoli"
"I hate to sound like my grandparents, but...when I went to school we had milk, plain milk! That’s it. There was nothing else."

Chef Lorena Garcia, "Alliance for a Healthier Generation: Paying Attention To What We Feed Our Kids"
"Here is the bottom line: we can reverse this epidemic. Parents, schools, students and community members can come together and make a difference."

Maren Stewart, "New School Meal Nutrition Standards Get An Improved Grade"
"While obesity is a complex problem that belongs to all of us, our schools certainly play an important role in providing nutrition to our children. In Colorado, nearly 400,000 children participate in the national lunch program, with upwards of 40 percent qualifying for free or reduced lunch."

Trisha Ryan, "Kids' Lunchtime Wishlists"
"One girl said it best when she said, 'Some of the foods I would include would be salads, assorted varieties of fruits and vegetables, and occasionally a few unhealthy foods.' Sounds like a perfect balance to me."

Dwayne C. Proctor, "Dads Support Healthy Foods in School, Too"
"I also know that when schools provide unhealthy foods and snacks, kids eat less of their lunch, consume more fats and fewer nutrients, and gain weight. So to me it’s a no-brainer that schools should provide healthier meals."

Nicole Presley, "Riverside School Cafeterias Are Changing For The Best"
"People snickered and told him his plan of healthy eating would not and could not work, but Rodney just kept his goals in sight of making a better lunch meal and changing the perception of school food service. One of the first things he incorporated to entice his students to come and eat in the cafeteria was start daily bar-b-que."

Kate Uslan, "Report from the Front Line: The Concession Stand"
"PTA President Ana Arrona said, 'I was surprised that the kids chose the fruit. They now expect it and if we are unable to offer the fruit cups the kids ask us why it’s not here. I really thought we would lose some of our profit, but we have actually been making more money.'"

Marc Lamont Hill, "Back to School and Childhood Obesity -- The Struggle Continues"
"Everyone agrees that children need to eat healthier, but there are differing opinions about whether or not stronger regulation on what is sold to kids in school will have an impact. Here is some food for thought."

Gayla Moghannam, "Healthy Bargains"
"Getting more nutritious food for our children doesn’t have to cost money. Start small. Work with your room parents to encourage them to bring healthier snacks into the classroom for celebrations."

Nicole Presley, "A Thumbs Up to These Great Federal Food Initiatives!"
"For Latino children it literally is feast or famine. Thirty percent of Latino children are obese and 30 percent are struggling to find their next meal."

Food Revolution Team, "Standing Together For Real Food In Schools"
"The new regulations, which mean more fruit and vegetables, more whole grains, age-based calorie ranges and less salt and unhealthy fats, will go a long way to begin to remedy nutritional shortfalls and address key concerns in the childhood obesity epidemic."

Trisha Ryan, "Parents, Kids Preview School Lunch Updates"
"As a parent, you do the heavy work of teaching your kids to eat healthy food. But, as Michelle Obama said, 'Parents have a right to expect that their efforts at home won’t be undone each day in the school cafeteria or in the vending machine in the hallway.'"

Manel Kappagoda, "New Rules For Preschools: How Can We Get Kids Off To a Healthier Start?"
"I may be a working parent, but I also work very hard to make sure my daughter gets nutritious meals at home every day. (Okay, most days.) I don’t want the time and effort I spend preparing good food undermined by poor nutritional choices at her preschool."

Joy Spencer, "Stopping Junk Food Companies and Other Marketers From Targeting Our Kids Online By Putting Parents First"
"The nature of the internet allows companies to constantly collect -- most of the time without your knowledge -- massive amounts of information about your child’s activities, preferences and interests while they are online or on their mobile device."

Elizabeth Brotherton, "School Meal Guidelines Are a Big Milestone -- But Don't Forget About Snacks!"
"Our work on school food is not yet complete, however. Many schools still sell unhealthy food and beverages a la carte in the cafeteria, in vending machines or at student stores."

Byron Hurt, "Personal Choice vs. Mandates – What will save our families from this deadly obesity crisis?"
"I was intrigued by this discussion, which can at times be polarizing, because my film centers on my father’s obesity, his subsequent life threatening illness (pancreatic cancer), and my journey to figure out what caused my father’s untimely death."

Ricky Y. Choi, "My Child's Perfect School Lunch"
"I see the effects of unhealthy eating in my pediatric clinic in the obese children with elevated cholesterol already accelerating down the path towards diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But it is not just obesity and it is not just children."

Margie Kelly, "Skip Junk Foods in School"
"A study published in Pediatrics found children who live in states with laws regulating the sale of junk food in schools gain less weight – 2.2 pounds for a 5-foot tall 100 pound child – than children in states with no such laws. The findings were based on data from 6,300 students in 40 states."

Meghan McHugh, "Leadership in Congress Means Healthier School Meals This Year"
"Thirty one million children participate in the National School Lunch Program. With one of five children at risk of hunger and one out of every three children in America overweight or obese, it is important to make school meals healthier."

Lily Eskelsen, "The Truth About Healthy Food (and Kids and Schools)"
"It took us years to develop into a culture that sits too much and eats too much of too much of the wrong things. It’s going to take some time to develop healthier habits in our kids. But we’ll start with the school leading the way."

Angela Shubert, "Encouraging Healthy Lifestyles and Improving Learning Outcomes for Our Nation's Children: School Nurses Know How To Make It Fun"
"The opportunities to improve students’ health outcomes are endless. School nurses often work with families to encourage schools to provide health education curriculum when children are young and in their most impressionable cognitive developmental stage."

Katy Farber, "The Power of New School Food Guidelines for Children"
"Our school didn’t have much work to do to meet these new standards. Luckily, our chefs have been using whole wheat flour, limiting sweets, eliminating chocolate milk, and providing plenty of fruits and vegetables at every meal."

Kevin Concannon, "Healthier School Meals Can Mean Millions of Healthier Kids"
"I’m proud to say that we’ve made major improvements to school meals that will show up in cafeterias this school year. Students can now expect more fruits, vegetables and whole grains; low-fat and fat-free milk choices; and foods with less sodium and trans fat."

Ericka Sanchez, "Honored to Be Recognized At the White House, Proud to Stand Up for New Nutrition Standards"
"As a mother and food blogger, the statistics relating to childhood obesity were astonishing. Nearly one in three children and teenagers are overweight or obese."

Margo Wootan, "The School Day Just Got Healthier"
"The new school lunch standards have the potential to transform the school nutrition environment and improve children’s health, but we need your help to get them fully implemented in all schools across the country."

Beth Bader, "It's Bigger Than Just School Lunch"
"We’re winning in our school, which is incredibly important for kids whose best meals and main nutrition for the week come from our school lunch program. Let’s not stop here."

Veronica Gonzalez-Smith, "Packing School Lunches Your Kids Will Love"
"Kids are extremely creative when it comes to creating colorful skewers of fruit. Just set some fruit in front of them and watch what happens."

Lori Popkewitz Alper, "Tips for a Green and Healthy Bag Lunch"
"It’s not pretty in our kitchen when the lunch packing begins. It truly looks like a tornado came through and tossed food all over the counters and floor. But it’s worth it."

Diana Donlon, "Cool for School -- Taming the Lunchbox"
"The final countdown to the school year has begun, so it’s time to snap out of my grade-school reverie and devise a climate-friendly strategy for school lunch. I’ve learned a few tips worth sharing."

Lisa Sharma Creighton, "Bag the Junk!"
"My answer to you is that while the new USDA guidelines will be an improvement over the current federal nutrition standards, they are expected to set only a minimum standard, leaving it up to individual states or school districts to create stronger policies that suit their specific needs."

Jessica Donze Black, "Don't Forget Your (Kid's!) Lunch"
"But not all of these changes will be easy to make. Schools operate on extremely tight budgets."

Dawn Undurraga, Lunch Boxes: Good Food On a Tight Budget!"
"This year schools across the country are revamping their lunch thanks to the advocacy of many parents like you. So take a moment to support the new healthier school lunches—that’s one less meal to pack a week."

Monifa Bandele, "Higher Standards for Snacks in Schools Helps Waistlines and Bottomlines"
"Today, the majority of children have access to snacks and beverages in schools and many of them are unhealthy options such as sugary drinks and salty snacks. Congress has directed the USDA to update the standards for these foods sold throughout the school day as the standards were last updated in 1979, when Carter was president."

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner and Claire Moshenberg, School Rules = Lower Obesity"
"A recent study in the Archive of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine by Bridging the Gap shows that an overweight or obese 5th grader who lives in a state with strong laws that restrict the sale of unhealthy snacks and beverages in schools is less likely to remain so by the 8th grade than their peers in states without these laws."

Claire Moshenberg, "#WellnessWeds: Top 5 Back To School Family Fitness Tips"
"The new school year is a great time to start new healthy habits. And those habits can have some pretty impressive academic rewards: Did you know that kids who are physically active get better grades?"

For related stories around the web, check out the following links:
"Breaking News: Significant Decrease in Obesity Rates for Philadelphia Kids",
"White House Snack Attack", Food Network
"Entrepreneurs tackle childhood obesity with 10,000 healthy lunches a day", Adriana Lopez for The Times-Picayune
"Don't Feed Your Kid That!",
"Grant Helps Prevent Childhood Obesity", Gianna Caserta for ABC News

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