America's Healthiest Schools 2010
An A+ for health
Here's a frightening fact: Nearly one in three children and teens in this country are obese or overweight. That’s why Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) set out to recognize schools that are taking steps to end that trend.
We’re honoring these five as part of the USDA/Health magazine HealthierUS Schools Challenge. Try some of these inspiring ideas in your community!
Sublette Elementary School
If Sublette Elementary had a theme for its drive to healthier living, it might be this: Small steps lead to big change. Low-fat and fat-free milk is in; whole milk is out. White whole-wheat flour, milled in Kansas, is used in bread made fresh at the school, and pasta is whole wheat, too. During a regular snack break, students can pick up fresh fruits or vegetables and bring them back to their classrooms.
Even recess has been tweaked: It’s before lunch, so kids aren’t hurrying through the meal in order to get outside.
Gooding Elementary School
Rewards don’t come in the form of candy or soda at this school. Instead, kids earn activity-based field trips—snow-shoeing, roller-skating, skiing—by walking laps. The lunch staff makes lots of food from scratch, and fried foods, candy, and soda aren’t allowed. In their place are low-fat and fat-free dairy choices, fresh veggies, and Idaho-grown potatoes.
The student nutrition club makes weekly announcements to talk about new dishes being served in the cafeteria or to give a fun nutrition fact, like how many inches asparagus grows in 24 hours. (It’s seven, by the way.)
Wilsonville Elementary School
Battling their state’s high childhood obesity rates—almost 18 percent of Alabama children are obese—teachers and faculty set out to provide their students with the foundation for a healthy life. Local farmers deliver fresh vegetables, such as green beans, collard greens, and sweet potatoes. Birthday parties or celebrations are healthy, too—fresh fruit instead of cake, and soda is out.
Also, staff members host nutrition lessons with parents and send out a monthly newsletter that offers suggestions for family physical activities, healthy snacks, and nutrition advice.
Springwoods Elementary School
Students at Springwoods are taught to live by the “95210” principle—that’s nine hours of sleep, five servings of fruits and vegetables, no more than two hours of screen time, at least one hour of exercise, and zero sugary drinks per day.
There’s this cool health tool, too: Parents and students can sit down before the school week starts and make a virtual food tray online, clicking on choices from each day’s menu to build healthy meals.
Jackson Annex Elementary School
Hempstead, New York
Parents in this New York town didn’t know what to think when their kids started jumping around during commercial breaks. In an effort to bring healthy-life changes home, PE instructors had given students ideas for getting in exercise even when it’s cold outside—like jumping jacks!
Another goal: more kids eating breakfast. Many students were skipping this crucial meal altogether or eating a high-sugar, low-nutrition snack. After a campaign to bring parents' attention to the free or low-cost breakfast offered at school, breakfast participation doubled.