Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

May 24, 2012

Healthy eating, activity earn CO honors

CROSSVILLE — Students at Crab Orchard Elementary have been eating better and getting more activity during the past school year. Those efforts have been recognized with prestigious awards for school health.

The school was named a Gold award winner in the Healthier U.S. School Challenge and Fuel Up 2 Play 60 program advisor Cindy Miniard was named the Tennessee Program Advisor of the Year.

"It is an honor to recognize Crab Orchard Elementary," said Steve Hortin, with the United States Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service. "We look at the school menus to see that there are more fruits and vegetables, at least one serving of whole grain foods, low fat, low sodium and no trans-fat foods. Schools have to provide nutrition education and a minimum amount of activity each week throughout the school year."

The Healthier U.S. School Challenge is part of the Let's Move! initiative of First Lady Michelle Obama, which seeks to end childhood obesity within a generation. Improved child nutrition was a key point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed into law in December 2010, which reauthorized the National School Lunch Program, serving nearly 32 million children each day.

Schools can achieve recognition at the bronze, silver, gold and gold award of distinction levels. Hortin noted only 3 percent of schools in the United States met the standards of the challenge.

"When you win an award, it's never just one person," Hortin told the students. "Everyone is a team in Cumberland County and works hard so every school gets health meals every day."

That team includes Kathy Hamby, school nutrition program supervisor, members of the school administration team and the school system administration, teachers and the cafeteria staff. The cafeteria staff, led by Missy Turner, was called up to accept the plaque on behalf of the school.

Fuel Up 2 Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program sponsored in partnership by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League. As part of Miniard's award, the school was honored to host former NFL linebacker Al Smith, who played for the Houston Oilers, at a special year-end celebration.

Smith told the students, "I've sat where you're sitting. I had guardian angels — parents, teachers and administrators — giving me guidance to eat well and live positively."

That advice goes beyond excelling in athletics, he said. It was important in order to be a good student.

"You need energy to play sports and do well in school," he said of the Fuel Up 2 Play 60 program's emphasis on healthy eating choices and the energy that came from being active at least 60 minutes each day.

Crab Orchard Elementary received a $2,500 grant through the Fuel Up 2 Play program in November. Those funds were used to provide new, healthy foods for snacks and to start offering a salad bar in the cafeteria. Physical activities were planned before, during and after school, and Miniard rewarded students with milk breaks instead of with sugary snacks.

Marie Keith, with the Southeast Dairy Association, said, "She's [Miniard] done an amazing job and, as a P.E. teacher, she has her nutrition information down, so she's been able to work with the cafeteria staff and make this a school-wide effort."

Crab Orchard was also named a Touchdown School in the program, meaning it implemented all elements of the Fuel Up 2 Play 60 program, including students taking the Fuel Up 2 Play 60 challenge.

Students were able to go online and track their eating and physical activity. Miniard was able to use that information to track progress and offer encouragement and awards. At the ceremony Friday, the top three students in the online tracking were awarded footballs autographed by Smith. Those students were Luke Pettus, Clint Kemmer and Victor Norris.

"The key to making this happen is to get administrative support," Keith said. "They've got everybody behind them."

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