Tulelake Farm Advisor
University of California
Tulelake Farm Advisor

UC Food Blog

Smarter snacks for schools

Photo by Peggy Greb
Our food environment (what we have access to around us to eat and drink) greatly influences what we consume. For many young people, the school food environment plays a huge role in what their overall eating pattern looks like since many youth consume one-third to half of their calories on school grounds.

The 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) marked the first major update to school meal guidelines across America in 15 years. Prior to HHFKA, there were no restrictions on salt, fat content in milk, or trans fats. Fruits and vegetables were grouped together, and there were no guidelines about increasing variety. In addition, snacks (i.e., competitive foods, since they compete with the school meal program) were not regulated, which meant that students could purchase junk food like candy bars and soda through vending machines right next to the cafeteria.

At the same time, childhood obesity rates were continuing to increase, along with risk factors associated with chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. With the updated regulations for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, millions of students across the U.S. got access to healthier meals, more in line with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

But what about the other foods that are available to kids during the school day? If a cookie is being sold right next to the school lunch and at a lower price, why not just buy the cookie? Or if you know your class is getting brownies from the teacher later, why get lunch at all?

USDA Guide to Smart Snacks

The answer: New standards under the HHFKA set regulations on snacks that can be sold during the school day. Now called Smart Snacks, these food items must align with federal nutrition standards. Such standards include being at least:

  • 50% whole grain OR
  • having the first ingredient on the nutrition label be a fruit, vegetable, dairy product or protein food OR
  • being a combination food where at least ¼ cup of the snack is a fruit or vegetable.

Many granola bars, popcorn, crackers and even treats like brownies can be a Smart Snack. Whole fruit, vegetables and frozen fruit in water or 100% fruit juice are always Smart Snacks. These standards are also required for fundraisers and events that occur during the school day, basically anytime money is exchanged for food at school. Surprising to most, the school day (for the purpose of school food regulations) actually starts at midnight before and ends 30 minutes after the last class of the day.

Smart Snacks Stores

What makes a snack 'smart'?

Don't worry, it's not just kale chips and broccoli stalks (although kale chips and broccoli are awesome!). There are a variety of Smart Snacks that fit the taste preferences for every age range.

As parents, community partners, school boosters and school staff, we all have a role in ensuring our youth have access to healthier snacks at school. It's also the law if your school participates in the federal school meal program. To find out if the food you want to sell or give out to kids makes the smart snack grade, you can check out the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Smart Snack online calculator, where you can enter in the nutrition information from the food label. Also, large online retailers like Costco and Amazon have Smart Snacks stores where you can browse and purchase a variety of compliant Smart Snacks. These standards have been around for some time now, but many people are still unfamiliar with them or don't understand their importance.

While Smart Snacks rules only apply to food that is sold to students during the school day, other policies - like your district's Local School Wellness Policy – may govern what can be provided to students on campus through rewards and incentives or at school celebrations. So, while there are regulations about what can be sold at school during the school day, why stop there? Why not make your after school fundraiser or snack shack healthy? Why not use smart snacks instead of sugary treats? Or even better, use non-food incentives like a birthday book instead of the same sugary cupcakes that come around each time there is a birthday. Instead of selling soda for $1 with the hotdog meal at the school carnival, try sparkling water or a hydration station with fruit infused water and a prize if you bring your own reusable water bottle. Just like clothes and movies, healthy and sustainable foods are becoming more trendy and lucrative for your fundraiser!

Overall, Smart Snacks are an important complement to the national school meal program and can be a great way to help students maintain growth and success in the classroom while also helping to maintain healthy lifestyles throughout life. Let your PTA and school partners know with this new infographic.

Smart Snacks Infographic

Posted on Monday, December 16, 2019 at 9:15 AM
Tags: Lauren Thomas (1), nutrition (124), Shannon Klisch (2), Snacks (1)
Focus Area Tags: Food Health

Western Alfalfa & Forage Symposium to meet in Reno Nov. 19-21

“Optimizing Yield and Quality in Irrigated Forages” will be the focus of discussion at the 2019 Western Alfalfa & Forage Symposium. More than 550 people are registered for the symposium, which will be held Nov. 19-21 at the Grand Sierra Hotel in Reno, Nev.

Irrigation management, forage quality and pest management are among the many topics that will be covered at the symposium. The comprehensive program features 62 speakers, 70 exhibitors, student poster sessions and an auction.

For a complete link to the program and registration/exhibitor information, please see the California Alfalfa & Forage Workgroup website at https://alfalfa.ucdavis.edu.

This program was organized by Cooperative Extension specialists and farmers from 11 states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

This year we feature several important areas of emphasis: Irrigation Workshop, Pest Management, Systems, Alternative Forages, and a ‘Forage Quality Mini-Symposium' on the last day.

Here are some of the agenda highlights:

Day One – Tuesday, Nov. 19, FORAGE IRRIGATION WORKSHOP: This one-day workshop provides many of the basics of irrigation management for forage crops.

  • Importance of Irrigation Management in Forage Crops
  • What is ET and How to Measure?
  • Soil Moisture Monitoring
  • Irrigation Scheduling
  • Fertigation and Use of Degraded Waters
  • Salinity Management
  • Deficit Irrigation of Alfalfa
  • Analysis of Sprinkler Systems
  • LEPA/LESA and Mobile Drip
  • Variable Rate Irrigation
  • Surface Irrigation Systems Design
  • Automation of Furrow and Flood Irrigation
  • Comparing Systems on-Farm
  • Drip Irrigation Systems in Alfalfa
  • Management of SDI on-Farm
  • Innovations from Companies in Irrigation Management

5 p.m.-7 p.m. SYMPOSIUM WELCOME RECEPTION Hors D'oeuvres and No Host Cocktails, Exhibits Open, Posters on Display

Day Two – Wednesday, Nov. 20, MAIN SESSION: ECONOMICS, WATER, PEST MANAGEMENT, FORAGE SYSTEMS & ALTERNATIVE FORAGES: This features an array of topics on the environment, economic trends, pest management and alternative forages.

  • Climate Change and Forage Production in Western States
  • Alfalfa Rotation Studies with Alfalfa, Small Grains, Corn
  • Benefits of Alfalfa in Rotations
  • Snake River Aquifer Groundwater Recharge
  • Alfalfa for Groundwater Recharge
  • Hay Industry Trends
  • Western Dairy Trends
  • World Trends in Exports
  • Key Issues for Hay Exporters

SYMPOSIUM BANQUET LUNCH

  • Control of Rodents Using Drones
  • Managing Beldings Ground Squirrels
  • Managing Weeds in Alfalfa
  • Glyphosate Injury in Roundup Ready Alfalfa
  • Clover Rood Cuculio
  • Insect Resistance in Alfalfa Weevil
  • IPM Program for Alfalfa Winter Pests in Deserts
  • Sugarcane Aphid and Control Strategies
  • Grazing Techniques on 7.2 Million Acres of alfalfa in Argentina
  • Simulated Grazing Timing of Annual Cereals
  • Optimizing Management of Small grain Forages
  • Management of N in Timothy
  • Tef as a Forage Crop
  • Rhodes Grass as an Alternative Forage
  • Corn and Sorghum Forages: Water and N Implications
  • Utilization of Sugarbeet as a Forage

5 p.m.-7 p.m. SYMPOSIUM RECEPTION Hors D'oeuvres and No Host Cocktails, Exhibits Open, Posters on Display. 6 p.m. CALIFORNIA ALFALFA & FORAGE ASSOCIATION LIVE AUCTION

Day Three – Thursday, Nov. 21, MAIN SESSION-FORAGE QUALITY MINI-SYMPOSIUM This is an event co-sponsored by the NIRS consortium and the Forage Testing Association

  • Linkage of Testing with Markets
  • Horse Nutritional Requirements and Testing
  • Importance of Fiber and Fiber Digestibility
  • Representing the Value of Energy, Protein, and Fiber in Feedstuffs
  • Key Hay Sampling Protocols
  • How to Choose a High-Quality Testing Lab
  • Standardization of Forage Testing and NFTA Certification
  • Misconceptions of NIRS Analysis
  • Multi-State Analysis of Forage Quality
  • Importance of Dry Matter Analysis
  • Future of Forage Testing 

3 p.m. ADJOURN SYMPOSIUM

See the complete program at https://alfalfa.ucdavis.edu. Register for the program, hotel and exhibitors at http://calhay.org/symposium. Continuing education units will be provided (24 units CCA, 3 units PCA).

Posted on Monday, November 18, 2019 at 11:35 AM
  • Author: Dan Putnam
  • Author: Rachael Long
Tags: Alfalfa (1), Dan Putnam (2), Rachael Long (5)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

Innovating dairy digester research

Dr. Pramod Pandey, a faculty member and cooperative extension specialist at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine runs experiments in capturing biogas.

California leads the nation in agricultural production, producing nearly all the nation's leafy green vegetables, most nut and fruit varieties, and is ranked first in egg and dairy production.

What that means is that California also produces a lot of agricultural waste materials, including lots of manure.

Historically these waste materials have been used as a rich source of compost. However, researchers at UC Cooperative Extension are researching innovative uses for this material. 

Dr. Pramod Pandey, a faculty member and Cooperative Extension specialist at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, focuses on better ways to manage waste material for both large and small farms. Dr. Pandey researches how to convert the organic matter in manure and other waste materials into a renewable energy source that can be used to power our state.

Converting manure to renewable energy

California gets over 27% of its energy from renewable resources like solar wind, and hydroelectric. Our goal is 50% renewable energy by 2030. California is taking steps towards this goal by building a network of dairy digesters which use bacteria to break down dairy manure and convert it into biogas. Clean burning fuels, such as biogas, are a sustainable source for generating energy because when they are burned, harmful by products are not produced.

Big bonus

A bonus is that the solid material left after the digesters have done their job is a fertilizer that can be used to grow the fruits, vegetables and nuts that our state is famous for. This type of fertilizer contains nutrients that are more readily available for plants because the digestion process breaks up organic materials more efficiently than traditional composting. The digestion process also helps reduce the number of harmful bacteria found in manure, making it much safer for use on plants grown for human food.

California leading in discovery and innovation

When we think about where agriculture has been and where it is going, innovation, efficiency and environmental sustainability are hallmarks of our approach in California. People like Dr. Pandey are driving forward research and technology to minimize the impact of agriculture production on the environment. When we think about where agriculture has been and where it is going, innovation, efficiency and environmental sustainability are hallmarks of our approach in California. His multidisciplinary approach to solving this complex problem of agricultural waste materials and water/air quality helps improve the economic wellbeing of farmers, and benefits Californians by providing nutrients for safe, healthy, and nutritious food.

While the importance of California's agriculture might be huge, its footprint on the environment doesn't have to be, and it is researchers like Dr. Pramod Pandey who are ensuring our state leads in discovery and innovation for many harvests to come.

Heather Johnson, Instructional Systems Designer, Gregory Wlasiuk, E-Learning Curriculum Designer, and Dr. Sara Garcia, Project Scientist, with the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security at the University of California, Davis, provided the script for the video which was used in this story. View Heather, Sara and Greg's filming and editing skills in the video below. Greg provides the narration. 

Posted on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 2:27 PM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture Innovation

Removing sodas for sale at UCSF helps cut sugar consumption and improve health

A study of the first University of California campus (UC San Francisco) to ban the sale of soda on campus has shown that employees reduced their consumption by nearly 50 percent. UCSF staff who took part in the study also reduced their waist measurements and weight.

“This was not a ban on the consumption of sugared beverages,” emphasized co-lead author Laura Schmidt, PhD, MSW, MPH, UCSF professor in the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. “This was a ban on sales on sugary beverages in vending machines, break rooms and cafeterias...People could still bring them from home or buy them off campus.”

The study was published Oct. 28, 2019, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Internal Medicine.

Fruit-infused water is a refreshing substitute for sugary soda.

California Assembly Member Richard Bloom (D–Santa Monica) noted the importance of workplace and governmental restrictions on soda sales while communities are prohibited from establishing local soda taxes for the next 12 years. In June 2018, the beverage industry strong-armed the California Legislature and Governor into enacting a “preemption” law that prohibits communities from passing local soda taxes. 

“Workplace restrictions enable communities to take charge of their own health as we build momentum to pass AB 138, my bill that establishes a statewide soda tax that will fund prevention efforts. The bill will reduce soda consumption and generate positive health outcomes in impacted communities, where most needed, just like the UCSF effort,” Bloom said.

Lorrene Ritchie, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and director of the UC Nutrition Policy Institute, which conducts nutrition research to strengthen public policy, commented: “I am so impressed with both UCSF's sales ban and this very well-done study. Sodas are such a huge contributor to our obesity crisis that it is heartening to recognize a solution that any employer can adopt to help people improve their lives.”

Speaking of the UCSF study, lead author Elissa Epel, PhD, UCSF professor of psychiatry and director of the UCSF Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions Center, said: “This shows us that simply ending sales of sugary drinks in the workplace can have a meaningful effect on improving health in less than one year. There is a well-known pathway from soda to disease. High sugar intake leads to abdominal fat and insulin resistance, which are known risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and even dementia. Recent studies have also linked sugar intake to early mortality.” 

Posted on Monday, October 28, 2019 at 2:42 PM
Focus Area Tags: Food Health

UC offers almond production short course Nov. 5–7

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources will host the UC Almond Short Course Nov. 5-7, 2019, at the Visalia Convention Center.

UC faculty, UC Cooperative Extension specialists and farm advisors and USDA researchers will provide in-depth, comprehensive presentations of all phases of almond culture and production. An optional field tour will be offered on Nov. 8 in Parlier.

The program is based on the latest information and research and will cover the fundamental principles that form the basis for practical decisions. Each session will include Q&A, quality time with instructors and networking opportunities. The full agenda is at https://ucanr.edu/sites/almondshortcourse/2019_Agenda.

This year's short course offers an in-depth field tour at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center on Friday, Nov. 8. For an additional fee, participants can learn firsthand about topics ranging from orchard establishment and management to integrated pest management. See the tour agenda at https://ucanr.edu/sites/almondshortcourse/2019_Field_Tour.

Registration is $900, discounts are available until Oct. 21. On-site registration will be $1,000.

Registration includes:

  • Three full days of instruction with more than 35 presentations
  • Binders containing presentations
  • Three lunches and two receptions
  • DPR (PCA) & CCA continuing education credits (pending approval)
  • Option to add Field Tour for $65

For more information, visit https://ucanr.edu/sites/almondshortcourse. Register at https://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=27971.

Almond orchard
Almond orchard

Posted on Friday, October 11, 2019 at 10:32 AM
Tags: Almonds (3)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

First story  |  Next 5 stories | Last story

 
E-mail
 
Webmaster Email: ljaskew@ucdavis.edu