USDA celebrates the start of a healthier school year for America’s school kids

Jackson, Miss. elementary schools honored for promoting nutrition, physical activity

JANS – USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Janey Thornton have recognized all 39 public elementary schools in Jackson for improving their school meals and meeting the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC). HUSSC is a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s national Let’s Move! Campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation.

“The HealthierUS School Challenge has recognized thousands of schools across America for their efforts in improving food and beverage offerings and teaching kids about nutritious food choices,” said Thornton. “The Challenge also encourages and provides opportunities for physical activity, as well as supports school wellness policies.” Jackson Public Schools’ 39 Gold Awards help improve the school nutrition environment in Mississippi. The challenge is a voluntary initiative established in 2004 to recognize schools participating in the National School Lunch Program that have created healthier school environments through promotion of nutrition and physical activity. During the visit Thornton also discussed the healthier school meals being offered to students this school year.

The new meal standards, established under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, ensure students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week; substantially increase offerings of whole grain-rich foods and low-fat milk or fat-free milk varieties; limit calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size; and focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium. Schools will phase in the nutrition standards over a three-year period, starting this school year. Schools will focus on changes in the lunches in the first year, with most changes in breakfast to take place in future years.

The new meal requirements are science-based standards revised for the first time in more than fifteen years to improve the health and nutrition of nearly 32 million kids that participate in school meal programs every school day. Healthier school meals are a key component of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by the First Lady as part of her Let’s Move! campaign and signed into law by President Obama. To learn about the meal standards, go to www.fns.usda. gov/healthierschoolday.

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