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Fuel Up to Play 60 Helps Schools Become HealthierUS School Challenge Award Winners

Last Published: 06/20/2013
Students at Carl Sandburg Elementary School celebrate the HealthierUS School ChallengeCarl Sandburg Elementary School students celebrate at the HealthierUS School Challenge gold award ceremony.

As part of the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative, USDA is working to increase the amount of schools across the country participating in its HealthierUS Schools Challenge (HUSSC). The HUSSC is a voluntary program that rewards schools for meeting rigorous nutrition and physical activity standards set by USDA. As Michelle Obama said, the HUSSC awards are "the highest honor that the USDA awards" to schools. Many schools are using creative methods to meet the Challenge components. Participating in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program is one such creative way some schools are getting the job done.

Dallas Cowboys players visit schools to do food taste testsBradie James, linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, and Daryl "Moose" Johnston, former Dallas Cowboys player, taste-tested new food with students at Dealey Montessori Vanguard and International Academy in Dallas.

Carl Sandburg Elementary School in Waterford, Michigan, is one school that's used Fuel Up to Play 60 to move full steam ahead to earn the HUSSC Gold Award. Fuel Up to Play 60's Healthy Eating Plays like "Taste Test a Rainbow" combined with Physical Activity Plays like "Learning the Moves" have helped the school achieve its HUSSC goals. Sandburg Elementary students are getting on the right track to good nutrition and fitness at their school's WS Depot Caf‚, where the mission statement, "Nourishing hungry bodies creates hungry minds," is proudly displayed next to their well-deserved HealthierUS School Challenge Gold banner.

HealthierUS School Challenge logo

In Shelby County, Alabama, Valley Intermediate School earned the HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award of Distinction, in part because of its participation in Fuel Up to Play 60. "In both programs," says district child nutrition director Maureen Alexander, "the focus is a healthy school environment. It's not just about what goes on in the cafeteria. It's what goes on in the entire school." Valley Intermediate was very active with Fuel Up to Play 60's Healthy Eating Plays - now 84% of the school's students participate in the reimbursable lunch program. And as part of their Fuel Up to Play 60 Physical Activity Play, Valley Intermediate has built a climbing wall so that students can stay active before, during, and after school.

"Fuel Up to Play 60 was a great complement to the HealthierUS School Challenge initiative," says Alexander. "It provided funding and a structured plan of action for student physical activity and healthy lifestyles."

  • Visit to access free tools and resources, including funding opportunities for schools.
  • Visit the HealthierUS School Challenge website for information on how to become an award-winning school.