America’s Healthiest Schools…Can Racine Live Up to the Challenge?

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Today's public school lunch

Image by .imelda via Flickr

Last night I read an article in Health Magazine which I found pretty interesting as well as encouraging. It was entitled America’s Healthiest Schools 2010.

There are school around the US which are making some really innovative and positive changes to combat the childhood obesity epidemic. According to the article, 1 out of 3 kids are obese or overweight. Now, that is one sad and dangerous statistic. Especially since it doesn’t have to happen to begin with and it IS curable.

I will let you read the article for the details. But I have to mention some of the ideas I do wish out schools would adopt.

In Sublette, Kansas, Sublette Elementary School is now having recess BEFORE lunch so that children are not rushing though their lunch to get outside. Not only will this allow for a better eating environment where children can eat relaxed making digestion easier and not only will they not be tempted to throw the healthier food away in order to hurry up…but also running around prior to eating will turn the food into energy instead of fat more so than if it were the other way around.

In Wilsonville, Alabama, farmers bring in fresh locally grown produce for school lunches. Also, the staff holds informations groups for parents on healthy eating, recipes, physical activities, etc. After all, it all starts and ends at HOME.

Springwoods Elementary in Woodbridge, VA has an interesting program of which I have never heard. They follow the “95210” program. 9 hours of sleep each night (so many people ignore the importance of sleep, especially with all the extracurricular activities and increase in homework). 5 servings of veggies and fruits (hopefully the stress that it should not be 5 servings of only fruit but veggies have to be included). No more the 2 hours of screen time a day – computer or TV.  At least 1 hour of daily exercise. And 0 sugar drinks per day. I love it!!!

These ideas are so great and I really hope they become contagious throughout the country.

Last year there was a program with Jamie Oliver about healthy eating in America, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

It was a short mini series type of television show…but the movement continues and I hope we can see him visit another American city very soon. Here is a clip from last season when he visited Huntington, West Virginia:

Bringing it home…

A year or two ago I was up in arms when I found out half way into the school year that my 8 year old step daughter was taking her allowance to school to buy candy from the daily snack cart. Once I found out what options were on that cart, I was pretty livid. I just did not understand how they could justify selling candy and cookies and chips to kids who are at such a high risk of being dangerously overweight. No, not all…but a THIRD?? That’s enough to worry about, isn’t it?

I wrote a letter to the local paper as well as to the school. I received no response whatsoever. I was contacted by a woman several months later who was organizing a healthy school program. She invited me to participate. because of personal things going on at the time, I was unable…though I do regret that. This group of teachers, parents and concerned citizens gathered and created what is now district wide policy!! I am so proud of these people – strangers or not.

The Wellness Policy has changed a lot when it comes to nutrition in the Racine Unified School District. And I applaud all the changes. Snacks are now to be healthier…no brownies or cupcakes are to be brought in for birthdays or treats (though I have heard it is happening anyway). Snack cart is supposed to only have healthier options (tho fruit and veggies would be even better than popcorn and PB crackers…a lot better!!) and I have noticed that the lunch menus seem much healthier than before. Still processed, frozen crap you get from a Schwann’s truck…but it is better than it was. More veggies and fruits and whole grains. They still have a ways to go to get to the impressive level of the schools mentioned above, however. And we live in farmland!! There is no reason for them not to continue to improve.

Anyway, I have been bitching about this for years and I am so glad that some people are seeing the light and making active steps to do something about it. I do also wish that parents weren’t so resistant to change…especially when it is so clearly for the better. MANY parents have been whining and complaining about the new Wellness Policy. I really do NOT understand that. So your kid wanted cupcakes for their birthday treat…make them at home! There is a birthday nearly every week in a typical classroom…its not all about YOUR kid.

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