El Monte City School District Honored for Promoting Nutrition, Physical Activity
It was an exciting start to the school year for the El Monte City School District (EMCSD). During their teachers and staff “Welcome Back” breakfast on Monday, August 21st, the District was presented with 12 HealthierUS School Challenge- Smarter Lunchroom (HUSSC-SL) awards. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Deputy Regional Administrator Terry Gunnell joined the California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Associate Director Kim Frinzell to present the awards to school principals at the district-wide event. They were welcomed by district administrators, School Board members, teachers, and staff.
The USDA HealthierUS School 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. “The students are so fortunate to have professionals like yourselves that go above and beyond to create a healthy environment that supports the whole child,” Frinzell said.
EMCSD has long been recognized as a state leader in wellness. The District received the first HealthierUS School Challenge Awards in California in 2011, when they accepted 14 silver awards. Since then, 9 of the schools have now moved to “gold” level designation. The “gold” level designation is an accomplishment that was only achieved by 10% of schools that applied.
The awards show the district’s commitment to a culture of wellness. In the past year, their efforts have included: expansion of innovative school breakfast models, student taste tests, nutrition education in the classroom, district-wide promotions for National School Breakfast week, new salad bars, and an event with Disney and Nickelodeon teen influencers to promote a healthy, daily breakfast.
Awards such as the HUSSC-SL also go hand in hand with CDE’s Team California for Healthy Kids initiative. They promote healthy eating and physical activity throughout the day, every day, in schools. Other CDE initiatives include Competitive Foods and Beverages, Local School Wellness Policy, and the Smarter Lunchroom Movement.
Changes in local schools and state initiatives are supported by a national movement towards nutritious improvements to school meals, including an emphasis on whole grains, milk with a lower fat content, and right-sized meals appropriate for the calorie needs of students of different ages. Nutrition standards align school meals with the latest nutrition science and the real world circumstances of America’s school, with the end goal of a healthier generation of children.