United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Janey Thornton announced on June 15 that 3,717 schools are now certified in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC), an initiative that boosts the health and nutrition of the nation’s schoolchildren.
The HUSSC is one of the key parts of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation.
“USDA committed to working with schools across the nation to reach the goal of having 2,250 HealthierUS School Challenge-certified schools by the end of June 2012,” said Thornton. “USDA and its partners not only succeeded in meeting that milestone, but have also surpassed the goal set for June 2012, a year ahead of schedule.”
In February 2010, the First Lady and USDA challenged stakeholders to double the number of HUSSC schools within a year and then add 1,000 schools per year for the following two years. Schools participating in the Challenge are recognized with Gold of Distinction, Gold, Silver, or Bronze certification.
Schools participating in the challenge voluntarily adopt USDA standards for their efforts in improving food and beverage offerings, teaching kids about nutritious food choices and being physically active, providing opportunities for physical activity, and having supportive school wellness policies.
“By prioritizing nutrition and physical activity for their children, leaders in these schools and the communities that support them are playing a crucial role in building a healthier next generation,” said Thornton. “Through their leadership, we are confident that schools across the nation will be able to implement the new standards for nutrition and ensure that the 32 million lunches and 13 million breakfasts served in schools every day will continue to play a key role in the fight against obesity in this country.”
Reducing childhood obesity and improving the nutrition of all Americans are vital to achieving a healthy future for America. USDA is working to implement historic reforms mandated by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that will mark the most comprehensive change to food in schools in more than a generation.
These reforms include updated nutrition standards for school meals to increase fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy; performance-based funding increases for schools – the first real increase in 30 years; and training and technical assistance to help schools meet improved standards.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including school meals programs, that 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.
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