School District in Illinois wins Gold with the Healthier US School Challenge
March 14, 2011 | By
D300 is Gold! Watch video here: “Going Gold”
Have YOU heard the news? Community Unit School District 300 in Carpentersville, Illinois has taken the Healthier US School Challenge and succeeded in receiving gold status for one of its schools!
“The Healthier US School Challenge (HUSSC) is a voluntary initiative established in 2004 to recognize those schools participating in the National School Lunch Program that have created healthier school environments through promotion of nutrition and physical activity.” (http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/healthierus/index.html).
Schools across the US that participate in the National School Lunch Program are welcome and encouraged to apply for a HUSSC status based on healthier menu options, more nutrition and physical education classroom time, as well as more recess! In February of last year, Michelle Obama made HUSSC a part of her “Let’s Move!” campaign, and is now offering schools monetary incentives to participate and to achieve bronze, silver, or gold status!
A rise in diet-related illness in the US (especially among young children) has prompted the government to make some changes. One of those changes has been a push for schools to make school meals healthier. Lunch funding by the government even got its first raise since the program started in 1946. Schools will now receive an additional 6 cents more per meal!
HUSSC winner D300 is made up of 31 schools and is about an hour outside of Chicago. Just like most great school districts, D300 boasts their sports teams, anti-drug and bullying rules, and some famous alumni, but D300 has really gone above and beyond when it comes to healthy, delicious school meals and more exercise for their students.
Receiving any HUSSC status is challenging. Not only do you have to offer your students a different fruit and vegetable every day of the school week, but to achieve gold you have to make that a fresh fruit or vegetable at least two days of the week. The whole grain requirements can stump even the healthiest of school lunch programs. To achieve gold – schools must have a serving of a whole-grain on their menu every day, and the whole-grain must be different every day. Nutrition education and physical activity are also among the requirements: nutrition must be taught to at least half of the grades in the school and all students must have a minimum of 150 minutes of structured active play time every week.
Phew! And there is still more! You can see all the requirements here: http://www.fns.usda.gov/hussc/application-materials.
How did D300 do it, you ask?
Baby steps. Principal Trish Whitecotton of Golfview Elementary (the school in the district to win gold!) was quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying: “I’m trying to keep in mind the bigger picture. You have to take baby steps to get there. It is a change of culture.”
D300 schools now use 100% whole-grain pizza crust as well as whole-grain wraps, pastas, and pancakes in order to meet the whole-grain everyday requirement. They ensure the vegetable and bean requirements by placing cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, and a number of other fresh vegetables on their cold bar.
Illinois has a program called Illinois Nutrition Education and Training (ILNET) that D300 has worked with to provide the nutrition education component of the HUSSC award. Resources from ILNET are applied to D300’s various grade levels and implemented by teachers. The curriculum they use is called “Planet Health.”
The shift to healthier food has caused a slight decrease in participation – something you can expect with any change, but the feedback of the new menu has been quite positive. With the changes, D300’s meals cost only rose by 2 cents per meal!
On top of all the excitement at D300 with earning gold status, the healthy food changes also caught the eye of a rock-star! Jill Jayne is the rock-star nutritionist, combining her love of rocking out with her love for healthy food and exercise. She and her crew tour the country with their hour-long interactive performance teaching children about good nutrition and moving to stay healthy. She was commissioned by D300 to write a few songs including the “Going Gold” music video featured on our site. You can watch it here: Going Gold. The video already has almost 8,000 hits on You Tube!
D300 is a great example of how an entire school district can make simple changes to improve the health and nutrition knowledge of its students. As a medium-sized district, it is very impressive that everyone was able to work together to implement these changes at each school. For more information on how to apply for a HUSSC status visit the federal site here.
We at www.thelunchbox.org are so proud of D300 for “Going Gold” and more importantly for helping to change the course of the nutrition crisis for their students!
If you want to help make healthy changes at your school, please be sure to peruse our site and check out the Programs section here.
Congrats to D300 and best of luck!