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This week's healthy schools highlights

Congress blocks new rules on school lunches

WASHINGTON — A slice of pizza still counts as a vegetable. In a victory for the makers of frozen pizzas, tomato paste and French fries, Congress on Monday blocked rules proposed by the Agriculture Department that would have overhauled the nation’s school lunch program. Read more in the New York Times.

Paris Elementary students get physical

The physical education curriculum at Paris Elementary School is getting bigger and better thanks to a three grants.

Paris was named one of only 34 schools across the country as an NFL PLAY 60 Super School. As part of the recognition, students recently spent a morning with Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller and running back Willis McGahee. The pair led the group in fitness activities and exercises and presented the school with a $10,000 NFL PLAY 60 grant for health and wellness programming or equipment.

“It’s always good to give back when you have the opportunity to… and have an impact on their lives,” McGahee said.

“This will be a day the kids will remember for the rest of their lives,” Paris physical education teacher Christopher Cain said.

In conjunction with the NFL PLAY 60 campaign, Proctor & Gamble presented Paris with an additional $1,000 on behalf of a school parent who has excelled in helping students stay active and healthy.

Paris also received $20,000 from the APS 21st Century Technology and Learning Grant Initiative, which is currently funding the HOPSports, Inc. program at the school. The program is a global health and wellness network reaching classrooms, schools, homes, workplaces and community centers. It uses a digital platform to combine physical activity, education and entertainment.

Farm to School puts fresh produce in Poudre school cafeterias

As growing season comes to a close in Colorado, Poudre School District students are enjoying the last few bites of fresh local produce from Northern Colorado farms.

The Farm to School program, an effort largely organized by LiveWell Fort Collins and the Poudre School District, aims to get as much fresh, local produce into the mouths of students as possible during the growing season each year. Read more in the Coloradoan newspaper.

USDA expands People’s Garden Initiative

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan
visited a community garden in Baltimore recently to announce 10 grants to support 155 People’s Gardens in neighborhoods from Maryland to Hawaii, continuing the U.S. Department of
 Agriculture’s (USDA) efforts to combat malnutrition while supporting local and regional food 
systems. These sustainable community gardens will give residents direct access to fresh fruits 
and vegetables in underserved neighborhoods. A lack of access to fresh and nutritious food fuels 
obesity and domestic food insecurity – a condition where households experience limited or uncertain access to adequate food.

“The simple act of planting a garden can help unite neighborhoods around a common 
effort and inspire communities to find solutions to challenges facing our country-from hunger 
to the environment,” said Merrigan. “The People’s Garden Initiative has demonstrated that one direct and effective way of improving food access is to plant a garden. Since establishing our
 People’s Garden Initiative, we’re excited to see more and more people working together to
create nurturing communities around these sources of nutritious food.”

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) manages the People’s
 Garden Grant Program (PGGP), with funding from the Agriculture Marketing Service, Animal 
and Plant Health Inspection Service, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the 
Natural Resources Conservation Service. The grants announced, totaling $725,000, are the
 first awards given under the PGGP. USDA received more than 360 proposals requesting more 
than $4 million.

PGGP was designed to invest in urban and rural areas identified as food deserts or food
 insecure areas, particularly those with persistent poverty. In addition, PGGP seeks to address
 health issues closely related to malnutrition, including food insecurity, obesity, diabetes and
 heart disease, through onsite education programs.

Projects were funded in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii,
 Maryland, Michigan and Ohio. Grants were awarded to:

  • Denver Urban Gardens, Colorado, $70,000
  • Homer Soil and Water Conservation District, Alaska, $110,500
  • Arizona Board of Regents, University of Arizona, Arizona, $5,000
  • Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, California, $29,000
  • Knox Parks, Inc., Connecticut, $50,000
-Heritage Ranch, Inc., Hawaii, $110,500
  • Alliance for Community Trees, Inc., Maryland, $150,000
  • Towson University, Maryland, $60,000
  • Calhoun Conservation District, Michigan, $70,000
  • Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, Ohio, $70,000

People’s Gardens are located at faith-based centers, on federal leased or owned property,
 at schools and other places within communities. All produce grown at a People’s Garden on
 USDA owned or leased property is donated to help those in need. To date, the People’s Garden has donated over 1 million pounds of produce to local food banks, food kitchens and other
 charitable organizations through their ‘Share Your Harvest’ campaign, whereby USDA invites
partners to share their harvests with neighborhood food pantries, kitchens and shelters, which
 helps improve access to healthy, affordable food at a local level. Search the People’s Gardens 
Interactive Map to find out where the gardens are located.

To learn more or to register your
community garden as a People’s Garden, visit

About our First Person series:

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