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This week’s healthy schools highlights

Chula Vista, Calif., schools fight obesity

When a Chula Vista teacher proposed weighing the kids in her school district she didn’t expect to find an obesity epidemic that outpaced the nation’s. KPBS education reporter Kyla Calvert tells us about the study and what the city’s elementary schools are doing to fight the trend. Watch this YouTube video.

Denver’s school food workers design pay-for-performance evaluations


Denver Public Schools food workers this week received a $150,000 grant to begin designing their own pay-for-performance evaluation system.

“Because everyone’s going to be doing scratch cooking now, that takes more work and more time, so we wanted to give the workers something back,” said Bernadette Jiron, president of the Denver Federation for Paraprofessionals and Nutrition Service Employees. Read more in the Denver Post.

No point in telling parents about kids’ weight?

(Reuters Health) – School policies that let parents know when their children are overweight or obese appear to have little impact on the problem, a new study finds. Read all about it in Reuters.

Secondhand smoke tied to mental health problems in kids

Estimates suggest that anywhere between 4.8 and 5.5 million children in the U.S. live in households where they are exposed to secondhand smoke, putting them at greater risk for multiple health problems. Now, new research suggests that secondhand smoke exposure can increase the odds of developing certain mental and behavioral disorders by 50 percent. Read more in the Huffington Post.

WOW! Children’s Museum steps up to the healthy food plate


Pedaling at a rigorous pace, it takes a 7-year-old about five minutes on a hand bike to burn off the calories gained from a small bowl of strawberries. It takes roughly two hours for the same child doing the same exercise to burn off a candy bar.

The consensus among 7-year-olds on the hand bike at the WOW! Museum in Lafayette last week? Eat more strawberries. Read more about the “Eat Well, Play Well” exhibit (interactivity in English and Spanish) in the Colorado Hometown Weekly.

Calling all school lunch heroes!

Know someone in your community who is making great efforts to improve school lunch? Know someone going to exceptional strides to ensure children are exposed to not only good food, but gardening and learning about the process of seed to harvest to kitchen to table? Perhaps he or she is a school food service cook, server, director, administration, parent, teacher, or student activist? Tell the The LunchBox (founded by EdNews Parent expert and head of Boulder Valley schools’ nutrition services, Ann Cooper) all about it.

The LunchBox will choose two inspirational folks twice a month to be featured in its Heroes blog section.

Once your hero has been selected, you will be asked to submit a 500-800 word blog about your hometown school food hero touching on the following points:

  • The background on what it took for your hero to get to where she/he is today
  • The story of your hero’s connection to healthier school meals, including who she/he teamed up with to help reach her/his goals
  • Why it is important to get healthy food into schools
  • An action paragraph: What are some small steps our followers can take to do help in their own communities?

Submit your hero (and/or your questions!) to Sunny at sunny@lunchlessons.org and be sure to put “Lunch Box Hero” in the subject line.

Colorado wins millions to boost school clinics

Colorado public health clinics won nearly $2.5 million in new federal grants to expand school-based medical centers for the poor and underserved, as providers gear up for an influx of new patients under the Affordable Care Act.

The Department of Health and Human Services grants, including $500,000 to Denver Health for its school programs, will pay for capital improvements expanding care to 440,000 new patients nationwide, on top of 790,000 already served, government officials said. Read more in the Denver Post.

New Mass. school food rules ban sweet snacks

BOSTON—Sugary sodas and sweet snacks are out along with potato chips and other vending machine cuisine under Massachusetts’ new school nutrition standards approved Wednesday. Read more in the Boston Globe.

Report: One-third of U.S. children are overweight or obese

More than one-third of U.S. children between ages 10-17 are considered obese (16.4 percent) or overweight (an additional 18.2 percent), according to a report released last week by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. That percentage has nearly tripled in the past 10 years, according to former Surgeon General David Satcher. Read more in EdWeek.

Citing health concerns, schools reconsider attendance awards

At his daughter’s high school graduation ceremony last year, Dr. Anthony Billittier was struck by the number of students receiving awards for perfect attendance. As commissioner of health for Erie County, N.Y., he couldn’t help but wonder if any of the students had gone to school sick in order to preserve their attendance record. Read more in the Washington Post.

Demand rises for Larimer County’s Kids Cafe

This summer, the Food Bank for Larimer County’s Kids Café is serving more than 750 meals a day to children at risk for hunger. In June alone, the food service program served 16,000 meals to children. That represents a 23 percent increase from the number of meals served in June 2010 and the largest meal outreach for Kids Café during its seven years of operation.

Kids Café, funded in part by the Federal Summer Food Service Program and administered by the Colorado Department of Education, is a year-round feeding program that targets children ages 3-18 who might be at risk of hunger. Read more in the Loveland Reporter-Herald.

Free cooking kits for qualifying schools

Share Our Strength has teamed up with the Partnership for a Healthier America to help in the distribution of free, high-end cooking demo kits, to schools and nonprofits that are facilitating chef engagement in schools.

Launched by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, Chefs Move to Schools encourages chefs to pair up with local schools to mobilize and excite a new generation of healthy eaters.  By adopting a school, a chef will work with school food professionals, teachers, parents and students to help educate kids about food and nutrition, and help them to make healthy choices.

Participating Chefs Move to Schools partners are eligible to receive a free cookware kit valued at approximately $2,000.   For more information or to register a chef/school match and apply for a cooking kit, visit Share Our Strength.

Should parents lose custody of severely obese kids?

A controversial new editorial is firing up the debate about what to do about kids who have become severely overweight, suggesting that some of them should be placed into foster care. Check out this Canadian TV report based on U.S. research findings.

USDA seeks ways to boost farm-to-school programs

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The popularity of farm-to-school programs that put locally grown food on cafeteria trays has exploded in recent years — so much so that the federal agency in charge of school lunches is giving them a new stamp of approval. Read more in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Jillian Michaels dishes out healthy snack ideas for kids

Leading health and wellness expert Jillian Michaels joined Marlo Thomas on Mondays with Marlo for a terrific chat about fitness, weight loss, self-improvement, and more! Here are ideas for some not-so-terrible “junk food” snacks. Read more at Parent Dish.

PE teachers and the obesity epidemic

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions and threatens to impact the health and well being of children and adolescents . States, school districts and schools are addressing childhood obesity through multi-pronged strategies that include developing school nutrition and physical activity policies and implementing classroom instruction in nutrition and physical education. Read more in the Pittsburgh Examiner.


About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.