School Health Programs
Good nutrition during childhood helps grow strong bones, ensures proper growth, and can prevent health problems such as obesity. Schools are in a great position to provide healthy breakfasts, snacks, and lunches to school-aged children. That's why the USDA has started several school nutrition initiatives.
Gold Medal Schools
The Utah Department of Health developed the Gold Medal Schools (GMS) program in 2001 using the State Office of Education’s core curriculum and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines to address overweight and obesity in elementary schools. GMS improves students’ academic success through policies and environmental changes that support good nutrition, physical activity, and staying tobacco-free.
Let’s Move! is a comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady, dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams. The Program puts children on the path to a healthy future. Parents are provided with information to foster environments that support healthy choices. Healthier foods are provided in our schools and families have access to healthy, affordable food. And kids will become more physically active.
HealthierUS School Challenge
One such initiative is the Healthier US School Challenge. Schools who choose to participate can become certified as Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Gold of Distinction Schools. Schools that take the Healthier US School Challenge have made changes to:
- Improve the quality of the foods served,
- Provide students with nutrition education, and
- Provide students with physical education and opportunities for physical activity.
More than 50 of our Utah schools have met this challenge! Find out if your school is an award-winning Healthier US School.
Fuel Up to Play 60
Fuel Up to Play 60 is a program sponsored by National Dairy Council and the National Football League that helps schools increase nutrition and physical activity. The Program uses the power of collaboration to help make everyone at the school healthier by fueling up with nutrient-rich foods and being active for 60 minutes or more a day. With Fuel Up to Play 60, adults and students work together to choose and implement school-improving changes. Students will become empowered to make healthy decisions, take action for change and encourage their friends to do the same.
Up to $4,000 per year is available to any qualifying K-12 school enrolled in Fuel Up to Play 60. The competitive, nationwide funding program can help your school jumpstart and sustain healthy nutrition and physical activity improvements. Applications are due Feb 1, June 1, and Oct 1 each school year.
Coordinated School Health
Coordinated School Health (CSH) is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a strategy for improving students' health and learning in our nation’s schools.
Coordinating the many parts of school health into a systematic approach can enable schools to
- Eliminate gaps and reduce redundancies across the many initiatives and funding streams
- Build partnerships and teamwork among school health and education professionals in the school
- Build collaboration and enhance communication among public health, school health, and other education and health professionals in the community
- Focus efforts on helping students engage in protective, health-enhancing behaviors and avoid risk behaviors
Coordinated School Health DVD - Watch a successful application of Coordinated School Health in McComb School District, SW Mississippi narrated by Dr. Pat Cooper. (Download video)
SelectHealth partnered with local school districts to create STEP Express. This free program helps 4th-grade students create healthier habits through classroom lesson plans, physical activities, and a fitness challenge. STEP Express follows the 4th-grade core curriculum and comes with PE equipment and prepared lesson plans. For the fitness challenge, students track their minutes of exercise using a passport and convert the minutes to miles. Grants are given to the three schools with the highest average miles per student, which allows smaller schools to compete. Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort near Salt Lake City also donates free aerial tram passes to students from each winning schools.
Safe Routes to School program
There is growing concern in Utah and nationally about the safety of children who walk or bike to school. With increased traffic congestion around schools, students who choose to walk or bike have limited safe routes, which discourages this healthy activity.
To assist in addressing this public safety and health issue, the Utah Department of Transportation provides Utah schools with walking and biking safety resources through the federally funded Safe Routes to School program.
Youth Physical Activity Guidelines Toolkit
This Youth Physical Activity: The Role of Schools fact sheet reviews the benefits of youth physical activity, provides statistics on youth participation in physical activity, and emphasizes policy and environmental changes that support physical activity. It is easy to photocopy, send as an e-mail message attachment, or place in the body of an e-mail.
Example of use: Physical education teachers and coordinators could use this fact sheet as a handout at a school board meeting to educate board members on the need for physical activity and physical education in schools.
Fruits and Vegetables
Farm to School
Farm to school is a program that connects schools to local farms in order to make school meals more nutritious, provide nutrition and agriculture education, and support local farmers. The program brings more locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables to school meals and encourages local farming. The initiative focuses on supporting policies that connect local farmers and consumers and encourages understanding of how food gets from the farm to our plate.
Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools (LMSB2S)
Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools is an initiative to assist schools to obtain and use salad bars. Kids eat more fruits and vegetables and plate waste decreases when they use a salad bar. Find out how your school can apply for a salad bar grant, help with fundraising, and many great resources!
School gardens offer opportunities for fun and physical activity while also serving as an important educational tool to help students understand how healthy food in produced and where their food comes from. Some research suggests that, when used as part of a nutrition education strategy, school gardens can increase knowledge of fruits and vegetables and influence behavior change among children.