Release No. 0450.11
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Joins
First Lady Michelle Obama to Salute HealthierUS School Challenge Award Winners
Schools Meet First Lady's HealthierUS
School Challenge Goal with Over 1250 Receiving Honors for Expanding Nutrition
and Physical Activity Opportunities
WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2011 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined First
Lady Michelle Obama to honor schools taking part in USDA's
HealthierUS School Challenge. The First Lady hosted a reception on the South
Lawn to honor the 1,273 schools that met her goal to double the number of
participants in the Challenge in a year. The Challenge recognizes schools that
create healthier school environments by providing exceptional nutrition
education, nutritious food and beverage choices, physical education and
opportunities for physical activity.
"Educators see firsthand the impact that childhood obesity has on our
children's lives -not just on their physical and emotional health, but on their
academic success as well. That's why our nation's educators have been leaders in
this movement to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in America," said First
Lady Michelle Obama. "Today, we're not just thanking these educators, but
encouraging them to continue that leadership, to reach out and help other
schools by sharing good ideas and best practices, and encouraging and inspiring
each other. The HealthierUS Schools Competition is a competition every school in
America can win. And when our schools win, our kids win and our country wins."
"Achieving the HealthierUS School Challenge recognition demonstrates a
school's deep commitment to create and maintain a healthy school environment,"
Vilsack said. "The schools we are recognizing today have already made great
progress toward meeting the school meals improvements set forth in the
Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act - and can serve as models for others seeking
to make improvements. By providing access to nutritious foods and promoting
physical activity in our schools, we can reinforce the healthy habits that many
parents are already teaching at home and help our children reach their full
HealthierUS School Challenge is a key component of First Lady Michelle
Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation. In
February 2010, USDA and the First Lady called on stakeholders to double the
number of Challenge schools - a goal reached in June 2011 - and add 1,000
schools per year for two years after that.
The Challenge schools honored at the White House voluntarily agreed to
provide healthy meals based on the
Dietary Guidelines for Americans, including a variety of fresh fruits and
vegetables, whole-grain foods, and fat-free or low fat milk. Challenge schools
also have to agree to provide nutrition education and to provide opportunities
for physical activity. Schools participating in the Challenge are recognized
with Gold Award of Distinction, Gold, Silver, or Bronze-level certification.
Click here to view a full list of Challenge schools.
Improving child nutrition is also the focal point of the
Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed into law by President Obama in December
2010. The legislation reauthorized the National School Lunch Program and USDA's
other child nutrition programs. The Act allows USDA, for the first time in over
30 years, the chance to make real reforms to school meals and increase access to
these critical programs.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15
nutrition assistance programs, including the child nutrition programs, which
touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These
programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Visit
www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance