Deadly school lunch in India
July 23rd, 2013
11:35 AM ET

Officers hunt down headmistress after Indian school poisoning

By Harmeet Shah Singh and Tom Watkins, CNN

Partna, India (CNN) - A week after an Indian school served toxic food to students, leaving 23 dead, its headmistress remains missing along with her husband, police said Tuesday. A nine-member team of officers has been formed to investigate and track down the principal, Meena Kumari, police superintendent Sujeet Kumar said.

Police presence is heavy in the village in Bihar state, especially around the principal's home.

Authorities have recorded statements from 40 witnesses, including child survivors of the July 16 food poisoning, Kumar said.

Residents went on a rampage a day after the toxic meals were served in the local government school, torching at least four police cars.

In acts of protest, parents of at least three children have buried their kids near the school - one right in front of the building, according to officials.

Police will ensure the headmistress' safety when she resurfaces or is taken into custody for questioning, authorities said.

Pesticides have been found in the food and oil used in the school lunch that sickened 25 others on July 16 in northern India's Bihar state, police said.

Read the full story

July 23rd, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Inside an Indian school kitchen

(CNN) - The Indian government has encouraged more children to attend school by offering free lunches to students. Most are prepared in individual kitchens; they rely on rice provided by the government and other foods that cost only a few cents per student. After dozens of children were sickened or killed by pesticides in school lunch, CNN's Sumnima Udas visited an Indian school kitchen to see how the meals are made, and why they continue to draw more students to classrooms.

Deadly school lunch in India
July 22nd, 2013
09:33 AM ET

Pesticides found in deadly school lunch in India

By Harmeet Shah Singh and Tom Watkins, CNN

Patna, India (CNN) - Pesticides have been found in the food and oil used in a free school lunch that killed 23 students and sickened 25 others on Tuesday in northern India's Bihar state, police said Saturday.

Forensic scientists found monocrotophos, an organophosphorus compound used as an insecticide, "in the samples of oil from the container, food remains on the platter and mixture of rice with vegetables in an aluminum utensil," Assistant Director General Ravinder Kumar told reporters in Patna.

Monocrotophos, which is used for agricultural purposes, is toxic to humans.

An administrative inquiry has pointed to negligence by the school headmistress in supervising food preparation for the children, Bihar state's midday meal director R. Lakshamanan told CNN on Friday.

The cook, Manju Devi, was hospitalized after eating the food she prepared, doctors said.

Devi told police that the headmistress, Meena Kumari, did not heed her warning that the mustard oil used to prepare Tuesday's lunch looked and smelled bad and instead insisted that she continue preparing the meal, Lakshmanan said, citing the inquiry report.

Police told CNN that investigators were trying to find Kumari to question her.

The investigation found compromised hygiene and sanitation in the school, which was running from a single-room makeshift building, he added.

Read the full story

 

 

July 15th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Jeff Bridges: I dream of a United States with 'no kid hungry'

Editor's note: Jeff Bridges has worked for more than 30 years on issues concerning childhood hunger here and abroad. He founded the End Hunger Network in 1983 to organize the entertainment industry around this cause. Since 2010, Jeff has been the national spokesperson for Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry® campaign to end childhood hunger in America.

(CNN) - When I was growing up, I had everything I needed. My wonderful parents, Dorothy and Lloyd, made sure we had nutritious food and they taught us where food came from.

I have been blessed in many ways, and my wife, Sue, and I have been fortunate enough to pass that on to our own four daughters. We've never had to worry about how we'd feed our family.

Other families in America are not as fortunate as I have been.

Few Americans realize that the majority of low-income children in this country get most of their nutrition at school. Whether it's the free breakfast, reduced-priced lunch or after-school snacks, these federally funded meal programs provide a critical safety net for families struggling to put food on the table.

However, there is a huge gap in the number of children who could be getting these meals and the number actually accessing them.

Read Bridges' full column

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Filed under: Kids' health • Nutrition • School lunch • Voices
USDA launches Greek yogurt program in schools
Arizona, Idaho, New York and Tennessee will participate in the new National Greek Yogurt Pilot Program.
July 11th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

USDA launches Greek yogurt program in schools

By Brittany Brady, CNN

(CNN) - In addition to the studies of Odysseus and Homer, school kids across the nation could get an additional Greek fix from in their yogurt, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture kicks off its National Greek Yogurt Pilot Program.

Arizona, Idaho, New York and Tennessee will be the first four states to participate in the project, which is a part of the National School Lunch Program for the 2013 – 2014 school year. The USDA announced in January that it would begin the pilot program to test the cost-effectiveness of including Greek yogurt in school meal programs.

Greek yogurt offers higher nutritional benefits than traditional yogurt with less sugar, carbohydrates, sodium and lactose, as well as an increase in protein per ounce. The ballooning demand for the dairy option has created a $2 billion industry.

New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, was particularly happy that his state, the largest producer of yogurt in the nation in 2012, had been chosen as part of the pilot.

“It is a win-win for the state, exposing our students to a nutritional product and expanding the marketplace for Greek yogurt producers and suppliers in New York State,” he said in a press release Tuesday.

Read the full post on CNN's Eatocracy blog

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Filed under: Kids' health • Nutrition • School lunch • Students
Regular bedtimes better for young minds
A new study suggests young children's bedtime consistency is tied to positive performance on intellectual tests.
July 9th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Regular bedtimes better for young minds

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

(CNN) - If your children are throwing temper tantrums because sleep seems unappealing, consider that it may be OK to let them stay up a little longer, as long as bedtime happens around the same time every night.

A new study suggests that consistency of young children's bedtime is associated with positive performance on a variety of intellectual tests. The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

"If the child prefers to go to sleep a little bit later, but it’s done regularly, that’s still OK for them, according to the evidence," said Amanda Sacker, professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London.

The study

Researchers looked at information about bedtimes and standardized test scores for more than 11,000 children who were part of the UK Millennium Cohort Study, a nationally representative study of children in the United Kingdom.

The Millennium Cohort Study followed children when they were aged 3, 5 and 7, and included regular surveys and home visits. Researchers asked parents about family routines such as bedtimes.

Children also took standardized tests in math, reading and spatial abilities when they were 7 years old.

Researchers controlled for socioeconomic status in addition to other factors such as discipline strategies, reading to children and breakfast routines.

The results

The study found that, in general, consistent bedtimes were linked to better performance across all subject areas. This was especially true for 7-year-old girls, regardless of socioeconomic background – they tended to do worse on all three intellect measurements if they had irregular bedtimes. Boys in this age group did not show the effect.

Read the full post on CNN.com's health blog, The Chart

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Filed under: Health • Kids' health • Parents • Students
Young minds bloom on an urban farm
The Jones Valley Urban Farm transformed more than 3 acres of vacant Birmingham, Alabama, land into an agricultural oasis.
May 31st, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Young minds bloom on an urban farm

Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Today's contributor, Emilie Dayan, writes a weekly SFA blog series called "Sustainable South" about food and the environment, nutrition, food access, food justice, agricultural issues and food politics.

By Southern Foodways Alliance

In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about urban agriculture and the solution it provides for sustainable and healthy living. The Jones Valley Teaching Farm (JVTF) in Birmingham, Alabama, however, is much more than an urban farm. Their vision is to educate 10,000 Birmingham children annually.

The project started in 2007 as the Jones Valley Urban Farm, when the organization transformed three and a half acres of vacant downtown property into an agricultural oasis. The mission was to make the downtown Birmingham community a healthier place. Soon, the farm’s educational programs proved to be the most relevant of all the organization’s initiatives. As a result, the leadership shifted the focus of the farm and changed the name.

Today, it is the Jones Valley Teaching Farm, and it is a place where young minds blossom. By connecting young people to their food, and helping them understand where it comes from, the JVTF believes that future generations will be empowered to eat smarter, think healthier, and live better.

Read the full post on CNN's Eatocracy blog

New York school goes all-vegetarian
Students at the Active Learning Elementary School in Queens check out the cafeteria salad bar.
May 8th, 2013
03:30 PM ET

New York school goes all-vegetarian

By Brittany Brady, CNN

(CNN) - Asked which school meals were their favorites, students at a public school in the New York borough of Queens don't say chicken fingers or meatballs. Instead, they name rice and kidney beans, black bean quesadillas or tofu with Chinese noodles.

"Whoever thought they would hear a third-grader saying that they liked tofu and Chinese noodles?" asked Dennis Walcott, New York City schools chancellor.

Walcott was at the Active Learning Elementary School this week to celebrate its move to all-vegetarian meals five days a week. The school of nearly 400 students, from pre-kindergarten to third grade, was founded five years ago on the principle that a healthy lifestyle leads to strong academic achievement.

"We decided on a vision where health and nutrition would be a part of educating the whole child," school principal Bob Groff said.

The school's focus on healthier meals began three years ago when Groff noticed a majority of students were bringing their own vegetarian meals. The school went meatless three days a week about a year and a half ago. It also tested meals on a small group of students, gathering feedback and changing the menu accordingly.

Active Learning's student body may be more accustomed to vegetarian diets than most, with 85% of the students being Asian and another 10% Hispanic, said Margie Feinberg, spokeswoman for the New York Department of Education.

"Rice was a staple of many of their home foods," Groff said of the students.

Read the full story

How to ensure no schoolchild dies of an allergy attack
Birthday party cupcakes or holiday treats brought from home can pose a risk to schoolkids with severe food allergies.
November 29th, 2012
05:03 PM ET

How to ensure no schoolchild dies of an allergy attack

By Ruchi Gupta, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Children should not die in schools. Children should not die from eating common foods. A minuscule speck of a peanut, not even visible, should not take a young child's life in minutes.

And yet this has happened in the past two years - to 13-year-old Kaitlyn in Chicago and to 7-year-old Ammaria in Virginia. As the holidays approach and celebratory treats are brought into schools from home, we must ensure children with food allergies are safe.

Congress can contribute to that by rapidly passing the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act. This bill would provide states with incentives to require elementary schools and secondary schools to maintain, and permit school personnel to administer, epinephrine - a form of adrenaline that eases hives and breathing difficulties and when injected, prevents rapid death.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: At Home • Kids' health • Nutrition • Practice
November 2nd, 2012
01:00 PM ET

School board member wants football ban

By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - A New Hampshire school board member says that he wants to ban football in his district. Paul Butler, a retired surgeon and first-term board member for the Dover school district, says that the risks of injury in the sport are too great. "I think it's bad to take this away I certainly do. But it's worse to let it continue," Dr. Butler told CNN affiliate WHDH.

The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t just call football a contact sport. The medical group also refers to it as a collision sport, because participants routinely slam into each other or into the ground.

AAP released updated guidelines in 2010 on dealing with head injuries in children, recommending that some student-athletes retire from football after multiple concussions or if symptoms from a concussion last longer than three months.

The medical group doesn’t say young people shouldn’t play varsity football, which is what it said about youth boxing in 1997.

Some parents say there are benefits to playing on the gridiron. "I think there's a lot of positive things you can get from playing football. A lot of good lessons kids learn, teamwork, working together for a common goal," Harold Stephens says in the video above.
FULL POST

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Filed under: Kids' health • Policy • Sports
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