Nearly one in three children and teens in the United States is obese or overweight.
In response to the epidemic, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation – a joint partnership of the American Heart Association established the Healthy Schools Program in 2006 to help schools develop and implement polices and practices to promote healthy eating and increase physical activity.
The Healthy Schools Program National Recognition Award is an honor given nationally to showcase and acknowledge these schools that have implemented changes.
There are four awards: Gold Award of Distinction, Gold, Silver and Bronze. To earn an award, schools must meet best practice criteria established by the Healthy Schools Program Expert Panel and outlined in the Healthy School Program Framework.
There were eight initiatives the schools had to meet or exceed standards in order to receive the bronze award. Documentation also had to be submitted to prove that each of the standards was met.
The bronze award was granted to Latta Early Childhood-Principal, Dollie Morrell and Latta Elementary School-Principal, Debra Morris. Food and nutrition services had to meet several nutritional standards for school meals which played a major role in this program. The nutritional standards included: serving a different fruit and vegetable each day of the week. serving one whole grain food a minimum of three times per week; serving foods with total sugar at or below 35 percent by weight (excluding fruit, vegetables and milk).
Developing a healthy school environment takes time and persistence.
“This is an ongoing process and we are in the first stage in making our schools healthy schools. We hope that each year we will help our students and staff make better nutritional choices and lifestyle changes.” says Theresa Rogers, Food Service Director. Carolyn Caulder, Cafeteria Supervisor, Ashley Johnson, Physical Education Teacher and Theresa Rogers, Director worked closely together to achieve this honor for the Latta School District.
Superintendent, John Kirby said, “Through this effort to provide healthy foods and combined with our free breakfast program for all students, we are trying to ensure that our students are not hungry at school and will be eating the most nutritional food we can provide. It is a win-win situation for students, parents and our teachers.”