Our View: Area schools work to improve student health
Congratulations are in order for Houston Elementary School, Pinecrest Elementary School and Lincoln Elementary School for earning the highest of four possible awards in the Healthier US School Challenge. It’s part of first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign that is challenging the nation to raise a healthier generation of children through education, healthier diets and exercise.

Houston is the first school in the Talladega City Schools system to attain certification in the program.

Pinecrest is the latest in Sylacauga, joining Indian Valley Elementary and Nichols Lawson Middle School.

Lincoln Elementary joins several other Talladega County Schools in promoting healthier meals. They include Childersburg Elementary, B.B. Comer Elementary, Watwood Elementary, Sycamore Elementary, Stemley Road Elementary and Munford Elementary.

They are part of an effort in 5,524 schools nationwide to helping improve health and fitness for their students. Schools earn recognition by making changes to improve the quality of foods served, providing students with nutrition education and providing students with physical education and opportunities for physical activity.

It’s a challenging job, and we appreciate the commitment of those who work in the nutrition programs who have taken on new challenges to help make a difference in the lives of the people they serve. Changes in food acquisition and preparation may be the most obvious changes in schools, but it takes the support of the entire school community to get the most out of the effort.

The certifications are based on four-year commitments to meeting program standards. They include meeting the requirements of the School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program. It means serving meals that reflect good menu planning principles, such as serving a variety of healthier foods that look good, taste good and appeal to the cultural sensitivities of the school and community populations.

And it means emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, reducing fats, and cutting down on sugar and salt.

The growth in obesity in our society has been obvious, and the increase in maladies stemming from obesity, poor nutrition and lack of exercise are epidemic. Those are not problems that can be remedied overnight. Teaching a new generation better habits for nutrition and exercise is a great way to start turning the tide for better health and longer, more fulfilling lives.

© 2013