Arkansas elementary schools can go for the GOLD or SILVER HealthierUS Challenge Recognition this year! The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will award HealthierUS Gold and/or Silver Recognition to elementary schools taking leadership roles in addressing obesity and healthy lifestyle issues relevant to students. The HealthierUS School Challenge encourages schools to achieve results in improving school nutrition environments, quality of food served and providing healthier food choices for students.
For the 2005-06 school year, elementary schools applying for either HealthierUS Silver or Gold recognition must:
1. Join or be enrolled as a Team Nutrition School http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/Join/index.htm
2. Offer reimbursable healthy lunches that meet USDA nutrition standards. Arkansas elementary schools using the “Three (3) Steps to Healthy School Meals Menu Planning System” can easily meet these special FNS nutrition standards. See attachment for the “Comparison of 3 Steps System to the HealthierUS LUNCH Menu Standards”,
3. Provide nutrition education to students,
4. Provide physical activity opportunities for students,
5. Maintain an Average Daily LUNCH PARTICIPATION of 70 percent or higher of elementary school enrollment for reimbursable lunches, and
6. Adhere to guidelines established by FNS for foods served/sold in schools outside the National School Lunch Program.
Schools that meet all the criteria will be certified as either Silver or Gold Schools by FNS for two years. FNS has developed a Self Assessment Tool that details these standards and requests specific information to verify a school’s adherence to the standards. The assessment tool must be evaluated by a local review panel, i.e. Nutrition and Physical Activity/Wellness Policy Committee and endorsed by the school’s principal. Please contact the district child nutrition director for additional information and assistance. Each elementary school’s completed application and assessment tools must be submitted to the district’s Area Specialist, Child Nutrition Unit (CNU), Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) for review. CNU, ADE will forward state-approved application packets to FNS for consideration.
Once a school successfully meets the Challenge, it will be awarded a plaque celebrating its accomplishment at the Silver or Gold level; and the school will be recognized on the USDA Team Nutrition Website. The school may also be chosen to participate in special USDA media events. Certification as a HealthierUS School is for two years, the year of approval and the subsequent year. The Challenge will expand to higher grades next year.
For additional information on becoming a Team Nutrition School, including an enrollment form, click on the link to the Team Nutrition website at http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/Join/index.htm
An application packet, assessment tool and all back-up material needed for the HealthierUS School Challenge is available at http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/HealthierUS/index.htm