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USDA Presents Gold Award of Distinction to Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School for Achieving the HealthierUS School Challenge

Release No.

FNS Office of Communications (703) 305-2281

First School in Washington to Receive Highest Honor in the Challenge

WASHINGTON, February 2, 2011 - USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon today joined the District of Columbia State Superintendent of Education Hosanna Mahaley in a special ceremony to present Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School a USDA HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award of Distinction. This is the first Gold Award of Distinction in Washington, D.C. and the highest honor in the Challenge.

"The HealthierUS School Challenge achievement demonstrates the deep commitment to create and maintain a healthy school environment by promoting good nutrition and physical activity," Concannon said. "Stokes' efforts are truly extraordinary and this event helps highlight the importance of the HealthierUS School Challenge and some of the ways that children and communities can become involved."

E.W. Stokes, a diverse preschool and elementary school that teaches their students in two languages, puts a special emphasis on physical activity and teaching students to make healthy food choices. At E.W. Stokes, physical education classes are taught daily and include activities such as dance, soccer, basketball, yoga, swimming, Tae Kwon Do, and volleyball. In addition, students are taught about nutrition and given the opportunity to make healthy choices in the lunchroom. On this particular day, E.W. Stokes students were offered baked Korean chicken served with brown rice and spinach sautéed with diced apple. The vegetarian option was a flavorful chickpea and cauliflower curry.

USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) is a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation. Last February, the First Lady and USDA called on stakeholders to double the number of HUSSC schools within in a year and add 1,000 schools per year for two years after that. Schools participating in the Challenge are recognized with Gold Award of Distinction, Gold, Silver, or Bronze-level certification. Schools participating in the HUSSC voluntarily adopt USDA standards for food they serve at their schools, agree to provide nutrition education and to provide opportunities for physical activity. Other Let's Move! initiatives to improve child nutrition include Chefs Move to Schools, a collaboration that links chefs with nearby schools, and the Recipes for Healthy Kids competition.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the child nutrition programs. Improving child nutrition is also a focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that recently passed Congress and was signed by President Obama on December 13, 2010. This legislation authorizes USDA'S child nutrition programs, including the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program, which serves nearly 32 million children each day. It will allow USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative. To learn more, visit