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USDA Presents HealthierUS School Challenge Honors to 154 Dallas Schools for Excellence in Nutrition and Fitness

Release No.
0218.11

Contact:
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

DALLAS, May 25, 2011 -- USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, Janey Thornton today recognized 154 Dallas schools for their efforts to expand nutrition and physical activity opportunities, the largest group of honorees from one district to date. USDA and its partners, the National Football League and the National Dairy Council, joined students, teachers, foodservice professionals, and community leaders for the HealthierUS School Challenge celebration. This is the largest number of awards ever presented to a single school district and the state of Texas leads the nation in the highest number of awards.

"HealthierUS Schools have taken an active role in combating childhood obesity by incorporating healthier menus and introducing more physical activities during the school day," said Thornton. "The strong foundation these schools have built supports a clear path for our nation's young people to win the future."

The Challenge and Fuel Up to Play 60 are key components of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation. Last year, 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. As of May 9, 1,001 schools are certified, well on the way toward the goal of 1,250 schools in this school year. Schools participating in the HUSSC voluntarily adopt USDA standards for food they serve at their schools, agree to offer nutrition education and to provide opportunities for physical activity. Other Let's Move! child nutrition initiatives include Fuel Up to Play 60, a customizable in-school program that empowers youth in more than 70,000 schools to improve nutrition and physical activity at their school and for their own health. It encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods (including low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

USDA recently announced that it will be investing $5.5 million in grants with approximately $2.5 million set aside to provide non-competitive grants (up to $50,000) to each State Agency that commits to specific strategies to increase the number of HealthierUS School Challenge applications submitted for approval. Up to $350,000 may be requested to include both competitive and non-competitive grants.

"First Lady Michelle Obama and USDA believe that schools can take a leadership role in helping students learn to make healthier eating and active lifestyle choices for better health," said Janey Thornton, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. "Today, we honor their commitment and encourage other schools to emulate their efforts in fostering these environments."

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service oversees 15 nutrition assistance programs that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. The programs work together to form a national safety net against hunger. The National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs provide nutritionally balanced, free and low-cost meals to nearly 32 million school children each school day. SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, puts healthy food in reach for more than 44 million Americans each month, half of whom are children.