Over 395 schools across the country recently got a big boost in their efforts to create healthier school environments for kids, thanks to school grants awarded by Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK). The grants, averaging $2,000 each for the 2012-2013 school year, are part of AFHK?s School Grants for Healthy Kids program, which is designed to improve access to healthy foods in schools and bolster Nutrition Education for more than 270,000 children.
"These grants have allowed us to give schools direct assistance in the way of money and human resources so they can offer healthier food choices and adopt strong wellness practices within their building," explains AFHK CEO Rob Bisceglie. "These are the kinds of changes that improve students' health over the long term."
And that's precisely the goal at Bauder Elementary School in Fort Collins, Co., where 58 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-price meals. Principal Brian Carpenter plans to use the school's $5,000 grant to start a comprehensive "taste test" program in the first few months of 2013 to introduce all students in grades K-5 to new fruits and vegetables that will be added to the cafeteria's fruit and salad bars. The goal is to get more kids to choose the good-for-you foods during lunchtime and ultimately form healthier habits.
In the meantime, the school has already started to include more fruits in its breakfast program and to make its classroom parties healthier. For Halloween, many classrooms offered healthy food options, while others held "active parties" with obstacle courses in the gym.
"The grant funds we have received this [school] year have been instrumental in changing the way classrooms celebrate accomplishments, holidays and celebrations," says Jane Harvey, an instructional teacher's aide at Bauder. "We are beginning to see students choose different fruits and vegetables they have not tried before during lunch and eating more of them."
Bauder is one of the over 395 schools in 20 states and Washington, D.C., to receive direct support from AFHK to implement health-improving programs, including breakfast programs; providing access to healthy foods through food tasting, Nutrition Education lessons, and food curriculum enhancements; the creation and expansion of summer feeding programs; and the placement of healthier foods in competitive food venues, including vending machines and school fundraising events. In addition, 20 AFHK state teams received funding to support school projects in their states, which provide those schools with tECHnical assistance and help them recruit and support local volunteers.
Totaling $1.5 million, the grants are part of a broader commitment made by the Walmart Foundation to support Nutrition Education and provide its customers with healthier and more affordable food choices, building on the success of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign.
Continuing its support of AFHK, the Walmart Foundation will also provide funding for 20 Get in the Action events to be hosted nationwide in 2013. AFHK's national service initiative, Get in the Action gives ordinary people an opportunity to Get Involved in their own communities, creating the kinds of healthy changes in schools that make it possible for kids to be physically active and eat nutritious food every day.
The events will take place in the spring of 2013, as part of Every Kid Healthy Week, April 22-26, an annual observance to raise awareness about the nation's childhood obesity problem, as well as its solutions: sound nutrition, regular physical activity, and health-promoting school programs like those made possible by AFHK's School Grants for Healthy Kids program.
If your school is interested in hosting your own Get in the Action event or receiving information about future grant opportunities through AFHK, please, contact SchoolGrants@actionforhealthykids.org or log on to our website for more details: www.ActionforHealthyKids.org.