SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 8, 2010 – USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Deputy Administrator for Special Nutrition Programs Audrey Rowe today visited California to highlight the Obama Administration's priorities for improving school meals and the health of children across the nation and encouraged San Francisco public schools to participate in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC). USDA created the HUSSC to recognize schools that maintain healthy school environments by improving the quality of meals and increasing physical activity and nutrition education. The HUSSC is also a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation.
"The HealthierUS School Challenge encourages schools to improve the nutrition of all foods offered in schools, provide more opportunities for physical activity for children while teaching them the healthful habits," said Rowe. "We all have a shared responsibility for the health of our children and look forward to our continued partnership with parents, teachers, schools and local governments to improve child nutrition."
Rowe joined California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell and San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Superintendent Carlos Garcia in celebrating SFUSD's commitment to improving its National School Lunch and other school nutrition programs. Staff at SFUSD recently implemented significant improvements to their school nutrition programs. In collaboration, the SFUSD, California Department of Education (CDE), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hosted a special event at Francisco Middle School to highlight the district's dedication to creating a healthy learning environment for students.
In February 2010, USDA and First Lady Michelle Obama called on stakeholders to double the number of HUSSC schools in a year and add 1,000 schools per year for two years after that. Currently 797 HUSSC awards have been made to schools. USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is making it easier and more appealing for schools to take the HUSSC including:
- Providing schools monetary incentives for earning HUSSC certification. FNS certifies schools as Gold of Distinction, Gold, Silver or Bronze status. HUSSC schools receive $2,000 for Gold Award of Distinction, $1,500 for Gold, $1,000 for Silver and $500 for Bronze;
- Offering an online HUSSC toolkit to provide schools a step by step guide on how to navigate the application process; and
- Providing schools with a range of educational and technical assistance materials that promote consumption of fruits and vegetables and other key aspects of the Dietary Guidelines – including a Menu Planner for Healthy School Meals.
Improving USDA's child nutrition programs on behalf of 32 million kids across the nation is a top priority of the Obama Administration. Strengthening the Child Nutrition Act, which authorizes USDA's child nutrition programs including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign. This legislation will serve as a down payment in battling hunger and food insecurity while providing critical resources to raise a generation of healthy children. To learn more about the First Lady's Let's Move! campaign, visit www.LetsMove.gov.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service 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. More information about FNS and its nutrition assistance programs is available at www.fns.usda.gov.