Major improvements are being made across the country and in Louisiana to increase access to healthy food and promote student wellness. The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010, a reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act sets new nutrition standards for meal patterns, food sold and served in schools, and requires training and certification for all school nutrition personnel.
Child nutrition programs in Louisiana play an important role in improving diet, reducing food insecurity and improving overall health. A healthy student is better enabled to learn and succeed and all students in Louisiana deserve that chance.
In April 2015, LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center partnered with the Louisiana Department of Education’s Division of Nutrition Support to launch the Louisiana Fit Kids project.
Just as participation in USDA child nutrition programs is associated with increased academic performance, the Louisiana Fit Kids project aims to strengthen our state’s child nutrition programs to help bolster academic achievement and children’s success through a variety of key initiatives:
Support schools in Louisiana in implementing the updated meal patterns and nutrition standards set by the HHFKA, which include:
- Ensuring students are offered fruits and vegetables every day
- Substantially increasing offerings of whole grain-rich foods
- Offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties
- Ensuring proper portion sizes are served
- Increasing the focus on reducing saturated fat, trans fat and sodium
- Develop an interactive Louisiana Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs website.
- Generate an assessment of Louisiana schools to determine training needs and technical assistance requirements, which will help set priorities for future action and will help allocate resources where they are most needed.
- Assist with implementation of Professional Standards requirements for school nutrition professionals who operate and manage the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.
- Create materials and offer on-site trainings on a variety of child nutrition topics.
- Help schools identify food items that meet Smart Snacks criteria.
- Guide schools to create, update and revise wellness plans as required by the HHFKA.
- Lead schools to successfully apply for awards under the HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms (HUSSC:SL).