Fueling Students’ Bodies: North Beach Elementary School in Miami, Florida a Leader in Nutrition and Physical Education
North Beach Elementary School in Miami Beach, Florida was recently recognized by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service as a HealthierUS School Challenge award winner for their outstanding school meal service. While there, we learned about the school’s wellness program which contributes significantly to a healthy learning environment.
“The school wellness activities have helped lead the way in the fight against obesity,” said Michele Rivera, Physical Education/Wellness Coordinator for North Beach Elementary School. “We have countless activities in our school led by students, parents, administrators and community members who share a passion to make our school a healthier place to learn. Students have numerous opportunities, beginning in Pre-K, to learn how to eat healthy and to understand the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.”
Rivera said that North Beach Elementary School started their wellness program over 10 years ago and had one of the first elementary school salad bars in the county. Today students are buying about 200 salads per week since the beginning of this school year. A la carte salad is made daily and about one fourth of the students who purchase lunch take a side salad.
It is also apparent that the students here in North Beach Elementary School are enjoying the benefits of physical education. Rivera told us that the children are provided multi-disciplinary education that incorporates sports skills, team building activities, fitness, health education and lots of fun. She said her students work hard and have specific tests and skills they must accomplish to prove that they have achieved mastery of those skills.
As the students work up an appetite, they are served meals in accordance with USDA’s New Meal Standards that ensure the kids are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week; substantially increase offerings of whole grain-rich foods; offer fat free or low-fat milk varieties; limit calories based on the age of children to ensure proper portion sizes; and increase focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.
North Beach Elementary School is a shining example when it comes to student wellness concerning exercise and eating nutritious meals. Visit our Healthier School Day web site to find out how you can contribute to healthy food and more physical activity at schools in your area.