School Food Services Receive USDA Recognition (July 18, 2010)
Twenty five public schools in St. Tammany Parish have been awarded the HealthierUS School Challenge Program’s highest level of recognition for excellence in food service and nutrition. The HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) is a voluntary initiative established in 2004 to recognize those schools participating in the National School Lunch Program that have created healthier school environments by meeting specialized program criteria.
Schools have the opportunity to become certified as Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Gold Award of Distinction Schools, depending on meeting certain criteria ranging from development of a wellness policy and promoting physical education to limits on sugar and salt in the meals served. A key component is nutrition education, where students learn about the food pyramid, whole grain foods, and the importance of vegetables.
Food Services Supervisor Pat Farris was notified by the United States Department of Agriculture this week that the schools named below had met the criteria for the “Gold Award of Distinction” for their meal preparation, nutrition instruction, and physical activity programs: Abita Springs Elementary, Abney Elementary, Alton Elementary, Bayou Woods Elementary, Bonne Ecole Elementary, Brock Elementary, Chahta-Ima Elementary, Covington Elementary, Cypress Cove Elementary, Fifth Ward Jr. High, Florida Avenue Elementary, Folsom Elementary, Honey Island Elementary, Lee Road Jr. High, Little Pearl Elementary, Lyon Elementary, Madisonville Elementary, Magnolia Trace Elementary, Mandeville Elementary, Marigny Elementary, Pontchartrain Elementary, Riverside Elementary, Sixth Ward Elementary, Whispering Forest Elementary, and Woodlake Elementary School.
Cypress Cove Elementary earned the honor of being the first school in the nation to win the Gold Award recognition in 2004, and by 2005, every elementary school food service program in the School System was recognized for having achieved the USDA Gold Level award. By 2006, twenty three St. Tammany Parish public schools had achieved Gold Award status in the program.
The U.S.D.A. commended the schools for the exemplary steps, leadership and team work employed to make changes to their school’s nutrition environment, improve the quality of the foods served, provide students with more nutritious, healthy choices, and enhance their physical activity program. In acknowledgement of their achievement, each school will receive a HUSSC award plaque and a banner to display for meeting the Healthier US School Challenge’s updated criteria. The names of the schools also will be added to the HUSSC awardee list on the Team Nutrition HUSSC website.
The School System’s “Go, Glow and Grow” program was recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)for outstanding effectiveness in providing nutrition education.