WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 (UPI) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has begun honoring schools that have students consuming more fruits and vegetables and increasing physical activity.
Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary at the USDA, says the HealthierUS School Challenge is a key component of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to end childhood obesity within one generation.
Schools participating in the program voluntarily adopt USDA standards for food served at their schools, agree to provide nutrition education and provide opportunities for physical activity.
Currently, 841 schools out of the 101,000 eligible schools nationwide have achieved HealthierUS status. Certification also includes monetary incentives for the schools — $2,000 for Gold Award of Distinction, $1,500 for Gold, $1,000 for Silver and $500 for Bronze.
The first lady supports the program, which includes Chefs Move to Schools — linking chefs with nearby schools — and the Recipes for Healthy Kids competition, which brings together chefs, school nutrition professionals, students and parents who work in teams to develop nutritious, delicious, kid-approved recipes for use in schools.
Recipes, which must be submitted by Dec. 30, have a chance to compete in a national cook-off and $12,000 in prizes, Merrigan says.
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