Best Practices for Nutrition Services
1. Schools offer meals (both breakfast and lunch) programs that are fully accessible to students, as well as include a variety of foods (Bronze)
2. Most or all venues outside the cafeteria (e.g., vending machines) where food is available offer fruits and non-fried vegetables (Silver)
3. Students have at least 10 minutes to eat breakfast and at least 20 minutes to eat lunch, counting from the time they are seated (Gold)
The Turlock Unified School District is eyeing the gold when it comes to healthy habits.
TUSD is a participant in the Healthy Schools Program, which aims to create a healthier generation of students by giving schools a framework on how to create and sustain healthy habits and environments.
Co-founded by Bill Clinton, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Healthy Schools Program focuses on six modules that address school health, including school health and safety policies and environment, health education, physical education and other physical activity programs, nutrition services, health promotions for staff, and family and community involvement.
Schools can achieve bronze, silver, or gold status for their implementation of the school health policies. The program explains certain requirements that schools need to achieve in order to progress to a higher level of award by looking at their areas of need.
“This program is steering schools to keep them going in the right direction in order to keep students healthy,” said Director of Child Nutrition Scott Soiseth.
By addressing these modules, schools are given a better idea on how to keep students healthy and encourage them to make positive choices. Director of Student Services Gil Ogden hopes that the program will help increase physical activity and education amongst schools.
“I think the problem is that they just aren’t moving like they used to, they’re just sitting around on their iPads or watching TV,” said Ogden. “We need to get kids up and physically active again.”
In 2010, seven TUSD schools were part of the first cohort to join the program, which gives guidelines in favor of healthier practices and environments. These seven schools, including Brown, Crowell, Wakefield, Dennis Earl, Medeiros, Osborn, and Roselawn, received $5,000 grants to help them in areas of need. Last year, the remaining schools throughout TUSD joined the program.
“The exciting thing about this program is that it doesn’t just give them tools that they can use today, it’s for a lifetime,” said Ogden. “Ultimately, we want to get kids to start making healthy choices independently because they healthier they are when they are younger, the longer their lifespan is going to be.”