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|Release No. 0359.11|
|USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623|
|USDA Announces Historic School Nutrition Improvements as Children Return to School|
|Schools Meet First Lady's HealthierUS School Challenge Goal with 1250 Receiving Honors for Expanding Nutrition and Physical Activity Opportunities|
WASHINGTON, August 15, 2011 — Today, USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon hosted a conference call to highlight the historic school nutrition reforms and improvements that students and families will see in the new school year. The reforms, delivered through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA), are improving the nutritional quality of school meals and bolstering the entire school environment. Concannon also announced that schools nationwide reached First Lady Michelle Obama's goal of 1,250 schools receiving HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) honors for expanding nutrition and physical activity opportunities.
"The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is a great win for our kids and the health of our nation," said Concannon. "I want to recognize the hundreds of schools that have already made great progress toward achieving school meals reforms – and can serve as models for others seeking to make improvements. By fueling our nation's children with the healthiest foods possible while at school, we can reinforce the healthy lifestyles that many parents are already teaching their children at home, which will put them in a position to thrive, grow and ultimately reach their full potential."
Under Secretary Concannon announced that schools had reached the goal of 1,250 schools receiving HealthierUS School Challenge honors for expanding nutrition and physical activity opportunities. HUSSC is a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation. Last year, the First Lady and USDA challenged the nation's communities to double the number of HUSSC schools within in a year –reaching 1,250 schools by the end of June 2011. Schools participating in the Challenge are recognized with Gold Award of Distinction, Gold, Silver, or Bronze-level certification. Schools participating in the HUSSC voluntarily adopt USDA standards for food they serve at their schools, agree to provide nutrition education and to provide opportunities for physical activity.
USDA also took the opportunity to launch the Healthy Access Locator, a web-based resource that geographically pinpoints HUSSC award-winning schools and features built-in data on diet-related diseases. The web-based map allows users to search HealthierUS School Challenge awards by geography (national, regional, local), school type (elementary, middle, high), award type (bronze, silver, gold, gold award of distinction) and date of award.
Since President Obama signed the HHFKA into law on December 13, USDA has worked aggressively to implement the Act's historic reforms including provisions to simplify program administration and expand children's access to school meals. Key accomplishments include:
In addition, USDA will continue to work with schools on improving the nutritional quality of food sold to children through six major components supported by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act:
Click here for new USDA Foods being offered to schools this year.
These school food improvements will be supported by other changes in the school environment, such as physical activity and nutrition education reforms, and strengthened local school wellness policies. School meals reach nearly 32 million children each school day nationwide, and many children consume as many as half their daily calories at school.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service oversees 15 nutrition assistance programs that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. The programs work together to form a national safety net against hunger. The National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs provide nutritionally balanced, free and low-cost meals to school children each school day. SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, puts healthy food in reach for more than 44 million Americans each month, half of whom are children.
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