WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the celebration of National School Lunch Week, October 11- 15, by highlighting Obama administration efforts to improve child nutrition, combat childhood obesity and encourage schools to participate in USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC), an initiative that recognizes schools for excellence in nutrition and physical activity.
"National School Lunch Week reminds us how important it is that our children be healthy and active, that they not go hungry, and that they have access to nutritious meals," Vilsack said. "Through our HealthierUS School Challenge, USDA recognizes schools that meet the highest standards for creating and maintaining healthy school environments by promoting good nutrition and physical activity."
The HUSSC is a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation. Schools participating in the HUSSC voluntarily adopt USDA standards for food they serve at their schools, agree to provide nutrition education and provide opportunities for physical activity.
In February, the First Lady and USDA challenged stakeholders to double the number of HUSSC schools within in a year and add 1,000 schools per year for two years after that. Schools participating in the Challenge are recognized with Gold of Distinction, Gold, Silver, or Bronze-level certification. As of late September, 841 HUSSC awards have been made to schools. HUSSC certification also includes monetary incentives for schools -$2,000 for Gold Award of Distinction, $1,500 for Gold, $1,000 for Silver and $500 for Bronze.
Next week, USDA will recognize the following schools for meeting the HealthierUS School Challenge:
- Phoenix Elementary School in Grand Forks, ND for Gold of Distinction certification
- Krause Elementary School in Brenham, TX for Gold certification
- Brenham Elementary School in Brenham, TX for Gold certification
- Central Elementary School in Lewisville, TX for Gold certification
- Byram Middle School in Terry, MS for Gold certification
- River Terrace Elementary School in Washington, DC for Gold certification
- Greene Central School in Greene, ME for Silver certification
- Leeds Central School in Leeds, ME for Silver certification
- Turner Primary School in Turner, ME for Silver certification
- Turner Elementary School in Turner, ME for Silver certification
- South Hamilton Elementary School in Jewell, IA for Silver certification
- Adrian Elementary School in Adrian, MN for Silver certification
- Belwood Elementary School in Calhoun, GA for Bronze certification
- Fairmount Elementary School in Fairmount, GA for Bronze certification
- Redbud Elementary School in Calhoun, GA for Bronze certification
- Sonoraville Elementary School in Calhoun, GA for Bronze certification
- Swain Elementary School in Plainville, GA for Bronze certification
- Tolbert Elementary School in Resaca, GA for Bronze certification
- Horizon Elementary School in Johnston, IA for Bronze certification
USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon salutes the example set by HUSSC schools and underscored the importance of a strong legislation to reauthorize the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs.
"These programs provide vital nutrition assistance to America's school-aged children and deserve our full support," he said. "Congress has the opportunity to pass improved legislation in time to make important changes to our school meals this very year and future years and we urge them to pass this when they convene again in November."
The First Lady actively supports the HUSSC with innovative Let's Move! initiatives, including Chefs Move to Schools, a collaboration that links chefs with nearby schools, and most recently with the Recipes for Healthy Kids competition, launched in early September. This competition brings together chefs, school nutrition professionals, students and parents who work in in teams to develop nutritious, delicious, kid-approved recipes for use in schools. Recipes must be submitted by Dec. 30. Winners will have a chance to compete in a national cook-off and $12,000 in prizes. For more information, please visit www.recipesforkidschallenge.com.
Improving USDA's child nutrition programs on behalf of nearly 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 (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the child nutrition 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.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).