• Special to the Daily Leader
Nearly one in three children and teens in this country are overweight. That’s why Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) set out to recognize schools that are taking steps to end that trend.
In the October issue of Health Magazine, five schools were honored as part of the USDA/Health magazine Healthier U.S .Schools Challenge.
Sublette Elementary School
Small steps lead to big change. Low-fat and fat-free milk is in; whole milk is out. White whole-wheat flour, milled in Kansas, is used in bread made fresh at the school, and pasta is whole wheat, too. During a regular snack break, students can pick up fresh produce and bring it back to their classrooms. Even recess has been tweaked: it’s before lunch, so kids aren’t hurrying through the meal in order to get outside.
Other winning schools included:
Gooding Elementary School
Kids earn activity-based field trips—snow-shoeing, roller-skating, skiing—by walking laps. The lunch staff makes lots of food from scratch, and fried foods, candy, and soda aren’t allowed. In their place are low-fat and fat-free dairy choices, fresh veggies, and Idaho-grown potatoes. The student nutrition club makes weekly announcements discussing new dishes being served in the cafeteria or to give a fun nutrition fact.
Wilsonville Elementary School
Local farmers deliver fresh vegetables, such as green beans, collard greens and sweet potatoes. Birthday parties or celebrations are healthy, too — fresh fruit instead of cake, and soda is prohibited. The focus on health doesn’t stop at the schoolyard — staff members host nutrition lessons with parents, and they send out a monthly newsletter that offers suggestions for family physical activities, healthy snacks, and nutrition advice.
Springwoods Elementary School
Students at Springwoods live by the “95210” principle — nine hours of sleep, five servings of fruits and vegetables, no more than two hours of screen time, at least one hour of exercise, and zero sugary drinks per day. There’s this cool health tool, too: Parents and students can sit down before the school week starts and make a virtual food tray online, choosing healthy items from the daily menu to build nutritious meals.
Jackson Annex Elementary School
In an effort to bring healthy-life changes home, PE instructors gave students ideas for exercising even when it’s cold outside — like jumping jacks. Another goal: eat breakfast. Many students were skipping this crucial meal altogether or eating a high-sugar, low-nutrition snack. After a campaign to bring parents’ attention to the free or low-cost breakfast offered at school, morning meal participation doubled — getting kids off to a healthier, more balanced start each day.