Illinois Ranks No. 1 In The Midwest Region For School Programs And Practices That Promote Healthy Habits

SPRINGFIELD — Another 161 Illinois schools in the past year successfully completed the HealthierUS School Challenge, a U.S. Department of Agriculture program administered by the Illinois State Board of Education. Since 2011, nearly 350 certifications have been awarded across Illinois for school programs and practices that promote healthy habits.

“A healthy school environment with the promotion of nutrition and physical activity is an essential part of making sure our children are prepared for success,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “Congratulations to the districts and schools taking the extra time and effort to earn this honor.”

New certifications from August 2014 to August 2015 include five Chicago Public Schools District 299 schools that earned a Gold Award of Distinction, the highest honor. They are Charles Kozminski Community Academy, Edwin G. Foreman High School, Michael Faraday Elementary School, North-Grand High School, and Spencer Technology Academy. An additional 146 schools in CPS 299 earned Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards.

Other schools earning HealthierUS School Challenge certification in the past year include the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired in Jacksonville (Silver Award) and Olney East Richland High School in East Richland Community Unit District 1 (Bronze Award). During the summer, the Olney school’s name was changed to Richland County High School and the district’s name was changed to Richland County Community Unit School District No. 1. In Crystal Lake School District 47, Canterbury Elementary School, Coventry Elementary School, Glacier Ridge Elementary School, Indian Prairie Elementary School, North Elementary School, South Elementary School, West Elementary School, and Woods Creek Elementary School all earned the Bronze Award.

A complete list of Illinois schools that earned HealthierUS School Challenge certification can be found athttp://www.fns.usda.gov/hussc/illinois-award-winners.

There are four levels of HealthierUS School Challenge certifications that schools can earn: Gold Award of Distinction, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. In Illinois, 49 have earned the Gold level, 97 have received Silver status, and 185 have been named Bronze recipients. Only 14 schools in Illinois have earned the highest HealthierUS School Challenge certification of Gold Award of Distinction.

Illinois ranks No. 1 in the Midwest Region for the number of certified schools, ahead of Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Nationwide, more than 7,000 schools have become certified in the HealthierUS School Challenge program. Schools participating in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program can apply for the voluntary national certification program.

Award-winning schools receive a monetary incentive (Bronze, $500; Silver, $1,000; Gold, $1,500; Gold Award of Distinction, $2,000), an award plaque, and a banner to display in the school.

To qualify for an award, a school must submit an application and meet basic criteria set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service. The criteria reflect the recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the recommendations published by the Institute of Medicine for foods that should be served outside the organized school meals program. HealthierUS Schools also must demonstrate commitment to a healthy school environment and implement a local school wellness policy. Schools then commit to meeting the criteria throughout a four-year certification period.

More information about the can be found on the USDA Food and Nutrition Service site at http://www.fns.usda.gov/hussc/healthierus-school-challenge. For questions about the program, email ISBE’s Nutrition and Wellness Division at cnp@isbe.net.

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