Feds award fitness nutrition grants as well as program guidelines for schools

Eleven California school districts and community-based organization were among the recipients of $35 million in federal grants for nutrition and physical fitness programs, the U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday.

The funding comes on the heels of new guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for promoting healthy eating and regular physical activity at schools.

Public health research points to the prevalence of obesity among school-age children has tripled in the last three decades, generating chronic disease risk factors related to high-blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood glucose levels.

As a result, the role schools play in helping prevent obesity and promote physical fitness continues to grow through policies, practices and supportive environments.

The grant money, issued through the Carol M. White Physical Education Program, is intended to assist K-12 local educational agencies and community organizations to begin, expand or enhance physical education and nutrition education programs, including after-school programs.

Grant winners from California were:

  • America On Track from Santa Ana: $475,779

  • Hayward Unified: $713,866

  • Children's Empowerment, Inc. from Colma: $187,631

  • Anaheim City Schools: $657,202

  • CSU Chico Research Foundation: $333,656

  • Ventura Unified: $327,961

  • AWAIT & FIND Project from Castro Valley: $456,529

  • Kern County Superintendent of Schools: $525,235

  • Gateway Unified School District in Redding: $454,611

  • Lindsay Unified: $660,351

  • Santa Ana Unified: $524,621

The new CDC resource for improving school nutrition and fitness programs utilizes nine guidelines drawn from the most recent research and best practices.

The guidelines are:

  • Use a coordinated approach to develop, implement, and evaluate healthy eating and physical activity policies and practices. Representatives from different segments of the school and community, including parents and students, should work together to maximize healthy eating and physical activity opportunities for students.

  • Establish school environments that support healthy eating and physical activity. The school environment should encourage all students to make healthy eating choices and be physically active throughout the school day.

  • Provide a quality school meal program and ensure that students have only appealing, healthy food and beverage choices offered outside of the school meal program. Schools should model and reinforce healthy dietary behaviors by ensuring that only nutritious and appealing foods and beverages are provided in all food venues in schools, including school meal programs; à la carte service in the cafeteria; vending machines; school stores and snack bars/concession stands; fundraisers on school grounds; classroom-based activities; staff and parent meetings; and after-school programs.

  • Implement a comprehensive physical activity program with quality physical education as the cornerstone. Children and adolescents should participate in 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day. A substantial percentage of students' physical activity can be provided through a comprehensive, school-based physical activity program that includes these components: physical education, recess, classroom-based physical activity, walking and bicycling to school, and out-of-school-time activities.

  • Implement health education that provides students with the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and experiences needed for healthy eating and physical activity. Health education is integral to the primary mission of schools, providing students with the knowledge and skills they need to become successful learners and healthy adults.

  • Provide students with health, mental health, and social services to address healthy eating, physical activity, and related chronic disease prevention. Schools are responsible for students' physical health, mental health, and safety during the school day. Schools should ensure resources are available for identification, follow-up, and treatment of health and mental health conditions related to diet, physical activity, and weight status.

  • Partner with families and community members in the development and implementation of healthy eating and physical activity policies, practices and programs. Partnerships among schools, families, and community members can enhance student learning, promote consistent messaging about health behaviors, increase resources, and engage, guide and motivate students to eat healthily and be active.

  • Provide a school employee wellness program that includes healthy eating and physical activity services for all school staff members. School employee wellness programs can improve staff productivity, decrease employee absenteeism, and decrease employee health care costs.

  • Employ qualified persons, and provide professional development opportunities for physical education, health education, nutrition services, and health, mental health, and social services staff members, as well as staff members who supervise recess, cafeteria time, and out-of-school-time programs. Providing certified and qualified staff with regular professional development opportunities enables them to improve current skills and acquire new ones.

To read more: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/npao/strategies.htm