SUMMIT – United States Department of Agriculture and New Jersey Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition officials today presented Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln-Hubbard, Franklin and Brayton Schools in Summit with the HealthierUS School Challenge Award, which recognizes schools that promote good nutrition and physical activity.
Jefferson School is one of only five schools in the state that attained the Silver Level of the award, which earned the district $1,000. All the other winning schools in the district attained the Bronze Level, which carries a $500 prize.
“The Summit School District has always had a commitment to offering healthy choices in their cafeterias so only made a few adjustments to earn this prestigious award,” said Arleen Ramos-Szatmary, Coordinator of School Nutrition Programs for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. “These changes will better equip its students to do their best and help them grow to be strong, healthy adults. We encourage the schools to continue to build upon their success and reach higher levels of the award.”
The HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) is a voluntary national certification initiative for schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. Sponsored by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the initiative encourages all schools to take a leadership role in helping students to make healthier eating and physical activity choices that will last a lifetime.
“Achieving the HealthierUS School Challenge recognition demonstrates the Summit School District’s deep commitment to create and maintain a healthy school environment,” said James Harmon, Director of Special Nutrition Programs, USDA Food and Nutrition Service. “Summit’s schools can serve as models for others seeking to make improvements.”
To achieve the award at the five schools, Food Service Director Tina Cappello of Pomptonian Foodservice said they “tweaked” the ala carte snacks, but other than that, met the other requirements of the award.
“Receiving the Healthier US School Challenge Award recognizes our commitment to educating the whole child and provides encouragement as we continue to work on many initiatives to ensure good health and well being for our school community,” said Ron Poles, Jefferson School Principal. “Students with healthy bodies allow us to concentrate on learning and thus student achievement.”
Cappello said they use Jersey Fresh produce whenever possible and Lincoln School has a garden. Lettuce and herbs grown by the students in the garden are used by Pomptonian to make fresh salad for lunch.
The five Summit District schools are among 50 in the state that have earned the HealthierUS School Challenge Award. Ultimately, FNS would like to see all schools receive a HUSSC award at any one of the four levels of superior performance: Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Gold Award of Distinction. Schools awarded receive a monetary incentive (Bronze $500, Silver $1,000, Gold $1,500, and Gold Award of Distinction $2,000), an award plaque signed by a USDA official, a banner to display in their school, and their name listed on the Team Nutrition Web site.
To qualify for an award, a school must submit a formal application and meet basic criteria set forth by the FNS for food that should be served in schools. HealthierUS Schools must also have a local school wellness policy, as mandated by Congress. Schools receiving a HUSSC award commit to meeting the criteria throughout their four year certification period.
Schools that champion the HUSSC work hard to make changes to their school nutrition environment in order to (1) improve the quality of the foods served, (2) provide students with nutrition education, and (3) provide students with physical education and opportunities for physical activity.
For more information on the HealthierUS School Challenge, visit www.fns.usda.gov/tn/healthierus/index.html.