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Motivating Schools To Make a Change – HealthierUS School Challenge Additions

Logan Elementary School in Topeka, Kansas, is pretty special, in my estimation. It’s is a great example of what a growing number of schools across the country are doing to tackle the obesity crisis gripping our kids and help their students develop healthy lifestyles.

I visited Logan Elementary recently to present it with bronze-level honors in USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC). Schools participating in the Challenge agree to meet tough USDA nutrition standards for foods served on campus, provide nutrition education and provide opportunities for physical activity for their students, as well. Schools make these changes voluntarily, which I think tells you where they stand when it comes to the well-being and future success of their students.

Some changes have been made to the HealthierUS School Challenge making it easier and more appealing for schools to take the Challenge.  First Lady Michelle Obama and the USDA called on stakeholders to double the number of award winners in a year and add 1,000 more schools for each of the following two years after that. Currently, at least 794 Challenge awards have been made. 

USDA is providing monetary incentives for earning HUSSC certification to give schools the encouragement they need.  The Food and Nutrition Service  (FNS) awards schools Gold of Distinction, Gold, Silver and Bronze awards.  Challenge schools receive $2,000 for Gold Award of Distinction, $1,500 for Gold, $1,000 for Silver and $500 for Bronze.  USDA also created an online Challenge toolkit to provide schools a step-by-step guide on how to navigate the application process, making it easier for schools to take the Challenge.  Schools will eventually be able to apply online.

FNS and Action for Healthy Kids partnered to promote the HealthierUS School Challenge as a component of their School Wellness Model.  Action for Healthy Kids is the nation’s leading nonprofit and largest volunteer network fighting childhood obesity and undernourishment.  It engages diverse organizations, leaders and volunteers in actions that foster sound nutrition and good physical activity in children, youth and schools.  The organization will help build awareness for the challenge in schools across the country and increase the number of schools that receive recognition. 

The Challenge is a part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign that aims to end childhood obesity within a generation.  More than 31 million children participate in the National School Lunch Program and at least 11 million participate in our National School Breakfast Program, which is why providing good nutrition at school is more important than ever.

The HealthierUS School Challenge raises the bar and helps schools improve the quality of school meals as well as the participation in school meal programs. And at the bottom line, that makes schools that step up to USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge pretty special.

Is your child’s school up to the Challenge?

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