Ten Pennsylvania schools have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for their dedication to serving healthy choices for school lunch and encouraging students to participate in physical activity. The winners are schools in Lehigh County, Lycoming County and Lackawanna County.
The schools participated in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) program. The HUSSC is a voluntary national certification initiative for schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. Sponsored by PDE and the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the initiative encourages all schools to take a leadership role in helping students make healthier eating and physical activity choices that will last a lifetime.
Schools that participated in the HUSSC worked hard to make changes to their school nutrition environment in order to improve the quality of the food served. They also worked to provide students with nutrition education, and provide students with physical education and opportunities for physical activity.
USDA's FNS awards one of the four levels of superior performance: Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Gold Award of Distinction. Schools that are chosen receive a monetary incentive (Bronze $500, Silver $1,000, Gold $1,500, and Gold Award of Distinction $2,000), an award plaque, a banner to display in their school, and their name listed on the Team Nutrition website, www.fns.usda.gov/tn/.
To qualify for an award, a school must submit a formal application and meet criteria set forth by the FNS. The HUSSC criteria reflect the recommendations of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published recommendations (April 2007) for foods that should be served in schools, outside of the organized school lunch meals. 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 would like more information about HUSSC can visit FNS' website at www.teamnutrition.usda.gov, or by contacting PDE's Division of Food and Nutrition at 1-800-331-0129.