Obesity seems to be the hot topic of conversation these days, and rightfully so with obesity rates steadily rising in the U.S. In the most recent report F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011, Texas is ranked as the twelfth fattest state. Bexar County, San Antonio statistics are just as significant with 65% of adults and 30% of students being classified as overweight or obese.
San Antonio Mayor Juli n Castro takes advantage of one of the many San Antonio school salad bars.
So what is being done to combat the rising obesity trend? At the local level, the San Antonio Mayor's Fitness Council and the City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District (Metro Health) are working together to fight obesity. In March of 2010, Metro Health received $15.6 million in federal stimulus funds as part of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant. The grant was used to fund the city's Find Your Balance campaign, which focuses on reducing the prevalence of obesity by increasing access to healthy foods and increasing physical activity through evidence-based policy, system, and environmental changes in schools, restaurants, and community settings.
One of the major initiatives of the Find Your Balance campaign is the Healthy School Meals Initiative, which is focused on healthy school meal choices and providing increased access to fruits and vegetables in schools through salad bars. Research has shown that school children significantly increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables when they have a school salad bar. At a recent Culinary Institute of America's Healthy Flavors, Healthy Kids conference held in San Antonio, local middle and high school students participated in a Find Your Balance panel discussion. Students unanimously indicated they would prefer a salad bar as a healthy meal option at school.
The Find Your Balance campaign is proud to have partnered with the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative which has a goal of donating 6,000 salad bars to schools nationwide. CPPW grant funds provide eligible Bexar County schools with a free salad bar valued at $2,900. In January 2011, Metro Health held a Healthy School Meals Workshop, which provided resources and innovative tECHniques for nutritious school meals. National experts from Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools, the Alliance for Healthier Generation, and the Texas Department of Agriculture shared best practices and school success stories to better assist schools in San Antonio promote healthier choices for the students.
Through the successful efforts of the Healthy School Meals Initiative, more than 100 schools in San Antonio will be implementing salad bars this fall. With this monumental achievement, San Antonio is now one of the top 3 U.S. cities, alongside New York City and Chicago, utilizing the most salad bars. The San Antonio salad bar initiative will reach over 100,000 students in Bexar County!
San Antonio has also been selected as a Let's Move! city, so it's no surprise that San Antonio schools are taking progressive steps in promoting healthy school meals through the use of salad bars. Through the various health initiatives of the Find Your Balance campaign, San Antonio continues to take innovative strides in combating the obesity epidemic. San Antonio's next report should read: F as in Fighting Obesity: How San Antonio Fights Obesity to help America's Future.
For more information about the Find Your Balance initiatives, go to: www.SABalance.org