HealthierUS School Challenge
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.
Release No. 0450.11
Contact: USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623
<p align="center" class="BodyTextBlack"><i>Schools Meet First Lady's HealthierUS School Challenge Goal with Over 1250 Receiving Honors for Expanding Nutrition and Physical Activity Opportunities</i></p>
WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2011 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined First Lady Michelle Obama to honor schools taking part in USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge. The First Lady hosted a reception on the South Lawn to honor the 1,273 schools that met her goal to double the number of participants in the Challenge in a year. The Challenge recognizes schools that create healthier school environments by providing exceptional nutrition education, nutritious food and beverage choices, physical education and opportunities for physical activity.
"Educators see firsthand the impact that childhood obesity has on our children's lives -not just on their physical and emotional health, but on their academic success as well. That's why our nation's educators have been leaders in this movement to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in America," said First Lady Michelle Obama. "Today, we're not just thanking these educators, but encouraging them to continue that leadership, to reach out and help other schools by sharing good ideas and best practices, and encouraging and inspiring each other. The HealthierUS Schools Competition is a competition every school in America can win. And when our schools win, our kids win and our country wins."
"Achieving the HealthierUS School Challenge recognition demonstrates a school's deep commitment to create and maintain a healthy school environment," Vilsack said. "The schools we are recognizing today have already made great progress toward meeting the school meals improvements set forth in the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act - and can serve as models for others seeking to make improvements. By providing access to nutritious foods and promoting physical activity in our schools, we can reinforce the healthy habits that many parents are already teaching at home and help our children reach their full potential."
The HealthierUS School Challenge is a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation. In February 2010, USDA and the First Lady called on stakeholders to double the number of Challenge schools - a goal reached in June 2011 - and add 1,000 schools per year for two years after that.
The Challenge schools honored at the White House voluntarily agreed to provide healthy meals based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, including a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain foods, and fat-free or low fat milk. Challenge schools also have to agree to provide nutrition education and to provide opportunities for physical activity. Schools participating in the Challenge are recognized with Gold Award of Distinction, Gold, Silver, or Bronze-level certification. Click here to view a full list of Challenge schools.
Improving child nutrition is also the focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed into law by President Obama in December 2010. The legislation reauthorized the National School Lunch Program and USDA's other child nutrition programs. The Act allows USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to school meals and increase access to these critical programs.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the child nutrition programs, which touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Visit www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.