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It’s National School Lunch Week!

October 14, 2009

Please vote in our poll below on Local School Wellness Policies!

This week is National School Lunch Week, and today the news is covered with talk about improving children’s nutrition – from the First Lady  and the Department of Education to academia and the food industry.

Some of the most exciting nutrition news, in our opinion, comes straight from Atlanta and out of a school that hosts a Girls on the Run program. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported yesterday about E Rivers Elementary’s Culinary Garden Club.

“Just outside the cafeteria at E. Rivers Elementary School, raised beds of collards, turnips and tomatoes stretch under a new fall sun. Inside, the same 15 fourth- and fifth-graders who tilled the soil and planted the seeds for those garden plots snack on Georgia-grown apples and chicken gumbo. Finished, they head to the kitchen for another lesson on healthy cooking and eating. They will make bratwurst sausage and apple turnovers. If there is time, they will end this week’s Culinary Garden Club meeting outside planting spinach and lettuces. E. Rivers is just one of many metro Atlanta schools where gardening and nutrition mix with academics in an effort to encourage healthy lifestyles and combat obesity. “

E Rivers’ Culinary Garden Club was formed as a result of the school’s Local Wellness Policy. In 2004, Congress required all school districts that participate in federally-funded meal programs to develop wellness policies to address nutrition and physical activity.  Policies had to be in place for the 2006 academic year.

According to experts, it’s too soon to tell if Local Wellness Policies are effective at improving nutrition and increasing physical activity in schools. While every school is required to have a policy, there are no laws in place to monitor or evaluate the policies. As a result, it’s possible that many schools aren’t in reality implementing the plans set forth in their policies.

Do you know if your school or child’s school has and uses a Local Wellness Policy? Answer in our poll below. And if you want to get involved with your local school to help them either improve or act upon their wellness policy, there are plenty of resources out there to get you started. For example, Action for Healthy Kids, a nonprofit dedicated to improving children’s nutrition and physical activity, offers a free Wellness Policy Tool that can help you create and sustain a successful Local School Wellness Policy.

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