Congratulations to NEMS!
Northeast Elementary Magnet School in Danville, Illinois recently won the recognition of former president Bill Clinton for its efforts to reduce childhood obesity by extending physical education time during the school day and encouraging families to get moving in the evenings. They also have started offering fresher fare for meals and installed a climbing wall in the gymnasium for students to use.
Less than a month ago, current President Barack Obama signed the Child Nutrition Act into law, which will hopefully help more schools make these kinds of healthy changes. The law provides for more funding for schools and higher nutritional standards. Another part of the federal government’s initiative to promote healthier childhood includes more incentives for schools that compete in the Healthier U.S. School Challenge (HUSSC), established in 2004. Now, through Michelle Obama’s spearheading of the Let’s Move campaign, schools can earn up to $2000 for demonstrating to HUSSC their commitment to excellence in nutrition and physical fitness throughout the school day. Let’s Move’s goal is to see the number of HUSSC schools double by June 2011 and continue adding 1000 more schools per year to that number in the future.
Although difficult, participating in HUSSC is well worth the effort. One or two passionate school employees or community members can get the ball rolling. The menu criteria provided on the application may seem daunting when compared with what is actually served, but making gradual changes over time can revolutionize children’s health. Whole grain, dry bean & pea, and fruit & vegetable quotas, as well as the analysis of how the lunch line actually works, helps schools develop a clear vision of where they need to go. The research has been done, which leaves us with no excuse to serve the same old junk food. It’s time to take steps for a healthier U.S. and a healthier generation of kids.
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