I was privileged to go to the State of Mississippi on Dec. 9, for a HealthierUS School Challenge event. Actually, I was there for three events and 11 schools received either USDA’s Gold of Distinction Awards or Gold Awards. One of the six schools that was recognized for the Gold of Distinction Award was Purvis High School in Purvis, Miss. This school is actually the first high school in the country to win this award and counting the other five Gold of Distinction award winners; these six schools are the first in Mississippi to be recognized for this particular award.
Certainly nutrition staff, along with parents, teachers and students, have played a huge role in Lamar County School District’s success. The Child Nutrition Department for the district has a centralized menu providing daily: four entrees, chef or specialty salads, three to four fruit and vegetable choices, and whole grain bread and croutons baked daily. An annual PTO Academy is conducted keeping parents and faculty abreast of wellness policy regulations and fresh ideas on healthier snacks and fundraising.
In addition, some of the schools have their own gardens. Some require walking a few laps around the track or field before starting free play at recess. The Child Nutrition Staff has a lot of training every year in food preparation and presentation, and whole grain breads are baked from scratch daily at all of the schools.
I think you can readily see why Lamar County School District is an outstanding organization that encourages wellness. So many of its schools are providing an excellent nutrition environment and exercise opportunities for their students. I was encouraged by what I saw and I hope many more schools will follow Lamar County School District’s example. USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge recognizes schools that create and maintain healthy school environments by promoting good nutrition and physical activity. It’s a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation.