Global Food Initiative launches online toolkit to improve school food

The University of California’s Global Food Initiative (GFI) has launched a free online toolkit aimed at providing anyone working with preK-12 schools with resources to help improve school food, nutrition education, and sustainability.

In 2014, over 17% of children and adolescents nationwide were obese. The National School Lunch Program provides over 30 million lunches per day to students across the country, with school meals providing almost half of daily calories for kids enrolled in breakfast and lunch programs. This puts schools in a uniquely important position to both serve healthy food to students, and also to provide them with the tools and education they need to form healthy, lifelong habits.

“What you eat not only impacts health, it also is strongly linked to academic achievement,” said Wendy Slusser, associate vice provost for UCLA’s Healthy Campus Initiative, who led the GFI project. “This toolkit offers resources to help organizations provide students with equitable access to healthy food, so they can eat better and maximize their opportunities for academic success.”

The newly launched Good Food for Local Schools website brings together resources from all of the UC campuses and beyond to provide educators, school administrators, community organizations, and parents, with resources to make good food a reality in their schools and communities. Resources span various sectors from full nutrition and gardening curriculums, to toolkits that guide operational change, to relevant research and policies surrounding school food, to service oriented projects and programs.

The range of resources includes:

a school nutrition curriculum,

• guides for rethinking school lunches and planning school menus,

an agenda for creating a new regional food system,

research to support healthy school meals,

a sample school food donation policy, and.

a documentary about the school food chain.

The toolkit was developed by members of the UC GFI community, who work with school districts all over the state to procure, cook, serve and teach about healthy and sustainable food. The site was created in close collaboration with the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley, as well as representatives from local school districts and experts from community nonprofits.

The EatWell Pod of UCLA’s Healthy Campus Initiative is featured on the site, serving as an exemplary model for how a university can engage with local food systems through curriculum, on-campus programming, and community engagement.

Other UCLA featured resources include:

Food Studies Graduate Certificate Program

DIG Campus Garden Coalition

Fit for Healthy Weight Program

Transforming Corner Stores: Integrating Health, Food and Community

How to Set Up a School Salad Bar Manual

For more information about Good Food for Local Schools, please visit http://goodfood.ucla.edu.

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By Meghan O’Connell, MPH student and Healthy Campus Initiative and Global Food Initiative GSR

UCLA’s Healthy Campus Initiative works closely with the UC Global Food Initiative. The GFI, launched by UC President Janet Napolitano in 2014, addresses the critical issue of how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a world population expected to reach eight billion by 2025. The initiative aligns the university’s research, outreach and operations in a sustained effort to develop, demonstrate and export solutions — throughout California, the United States and the world — for food security, health and sustainability.

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