Freeport schools among 35 to earn Top Nutrition Award
PORTLAND — Hard work pays off as 35 Maine public schools were each recognized Dec. 8 with a Healthier U.S. Bronze Award — one of the nation’s highest school nutrition awards — from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of its Healthier U. S. School Challenge (HUSSC).
The schools — in Falmouth, Boothbay, Freeport, Lakes Region, Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, Yarmouth, North Yarmouth and Scarborough districts — earned the awards for their commitment to a healthier school environment, according to a news release from the USDA.
To meet the challenge, many of the schools worked with Let’s Go! School Nutrition Initiative and all had a dedicated school nutrition director and support from staff and the Maine Department of Education, the release continued. The schools join the ranks of an elite group recognized for health, nutrition and fitness excellence. Only about one percent of schools nationwide have achieved Healthier U.S. status.
Kevin Concannon, USDA under secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, presented the awards Dec. 8 at a celebration at the University of Southern Maine. Concannon applauded Maine’s approach of working together with the Let’s Go! School Nutrition Initiative to submit a joint application for the HUSSC.
“ We are reminded about the importance of providing our children access to nutritious meals so they are able to learn, thrive and grow,” said Concannon. “Through our Healthier U.S. School Challenge, USDA recognizes schools that have accepted the challenge of revamping school lunch with meals that look good, taste good and are good for you. These schools have moved away from processed foods to menues that offer fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and reduced levels of fat, salt and sugar.”
The Challenge is a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation. Schools participating in the challenge voluntarily adopt USDA standards for food they serve, agree to provide nutrition education and provide opportunities for physical activity. Challenge winners are recognized with Gold of Distinction, Gold, Silver, or Bronze-level certification. Challenge certification also includes monetary incentives for schools — $2,000 for Gold Award of Distinction, $1,500 for Gold, $1,000 for Silver and $500 for Bronze.
Learn more at www.fns.usda.gov/ tn/HealthierUS/index.html.