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September 29, 2013

President Bill Clinton to Recognize 267 U.S. Schools for Efforts to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Alliance for a Healthier Generation announces all schools meet or exceed federal nutrition standards for school meals

(LITTLE ROCK, ARK.) September 29, 2013 – Tomorrow, President Bill Clinton will honor 267 schools at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark. for creating healthier environments for children to learn and staff to work. The awards ceremony is part of the eighth annual Healthy Schools Program Forum. In addition, President Clinton will share data showing that each of the 267 schools—and nearly all schools that participate in the Healthy Schools Program and have such data—are meeting or exceeding recently updated federal nutrition standards for healthy school meals.

The Healthy Schools Program is a project of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which was co-founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation.

“Giving children the right kind of food is crucial to their well-being and success,” said President Bill Clinton, co-founder of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation along with the American Heart Association. “The Healthy Schools Program proves that, with proper planning and support, there seems to be no reason why all districts can’t meet nutritional standards and serve their students healthy, enjoyable meals.”

The Alliance works with more than 18,000 schools across the nation in every state, reaching more than 11 million students, as well as teachers and other school staff. Its Healthy Schools Program is funded primarily by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

“The schools we’re honoring are creating a culture of health for their students and staff,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “They’re helping to ensure that students have the good nutrition, physical activity, and healthy habits they need to be ready to learn now and to succeed in the future.”

School Nutrition Success

As part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, schools around the country were required to implement updated nutrition standards at the start of the 2012-13 school year for meals served through the federally funded National School Lunch Program. The guidelines required an increase of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; a shift to low-fat or nonfat milk; and limits on calories, sodium, and unhealthy fats.

Findings from the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program, based on self-reported data from participating schools, reveal the following:

  • 100 percent of the 267 schools achieving recognition in 2013 are meeting or exceeding updated federal nutrition standards.
  • Schools in both low-income and more affluent communities are meeting or exceeding the new guidelines. In two-thirds of the recognized schools, more than 50 percent of students are eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunch, while nearly one-third of the schools serve a more affluent student population.
  • In addition to the schools receiving recognition, more than 95 percent of all schools that participate in the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program and have such data (n=3000+) are meeting or exceeding federal nutrition standards. Specifically:
    • 98 percent serve healthy breakfasts in addition to lunch.
    • 86 percent offer at least four fruit/vegetable options daily.
    • 85 percent confirm at least half of all grains served at breakfast and lunch are whole grain-rich.  

Students get up to half of their daily nutrients from food consumed at school. School meals provide a direct way to influence the health of young people and help them establish good eating habits early in life.

“Childhood obesity may result in severe medical consequences for our kids as they grow older, which is why all schools should be a reliable source of healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity for both students and staff,” said Dr. Mariell Jessup, president of the American Heart Association, which co-founded the Alliance for a Healthier Generation with the Clinton Foundation.

Schools participating in the Healthy Schools Program have access to national experts, in-person and online trainings, and resources that include sample menus and product lists to help meet federal standards. With the assistance of the Alliance, many schools started serving healthier meals in advance of the implementation deadline. Similarly, the Alliance is supporting schools in their efforts to serve healthier snacks and beverages in compliance with the “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition guidelines that will take effect in the 2014-15 school year. The Alliance is available to help any school assess their current snack offerings and swap less healthy items with products that meet the new criteria.

“Providing students with a healthy school nutrition environment is integral to reversing the childhood obesity epidemic,” said Dr. Howell Wechsler, chief executive officer of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “I am proud to say that every single one of our recognized schools—in addition to thousands more also participating in the Healthy Schools Program—is prioritizing our children’s health by improving the meals served to students.”

The Recognized Schools

The 267 recognized schools represent more than 25 states and the District of Columbia. Each school distinguished itself with healthy eating and physical activity programs and policies that meet or exceed stringent standards set by the Healthy Schools Program. Schools are eligible for National Recognition Awards at the Bronze, Silver, or Gold level based on the standards they achieve.

To learn more about the schools recognized at this year’s event, visit: www.HealthierGeneration.org

In addition to RWJF, the following organizations provided support for the 2013 Healthy Schools Program Forum: BOKS, GoNoodle, SPARK, Clorox, Healthrageous, New York Road Runners, Boosterthon, ETR Associates/HealthSmart, NEA Health Information Network, PE Fit, Playworks, Speed Stacks and Whole Kids Foundation.


About the Alliance for a Healthier Generation

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation, works to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity and to empower kids to develop lifelong, healthy habits. The Alliance works with schools, companies, community organizations, healthcare professionals and families to transform the conditions and systems that lead to healthier children. To learn more and join the movement, visit www.HealthierGeneration.org

About The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation
The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation builds partnerships of great purpose between businesses, governments, NGOs, and individuals everywhere to deliver lasting solutions and empower people to live better lives. Because of our work, 18,000 American schools are providing kids with healthy food choices in an effort to eradicate childhood obesity; 21,000 African farmers have improved their crops to feed 30,000 people; 248 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced in cities worldwide; more than 5,000 people have been trained in marketable job skills in Colombia; more than 5 million people have benefited from lifesaving HIV/AIDS medications; and members of the Clinton Global Initiative have made nearly 2,300 Commitments to Action to improve more than 400 million lives around the world. Learn more at http://www.clintonfoundation.org, and on Twitter @ClintonFdn

About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measureable and timely change. For more than 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter www.rwjf.org/twitter or Facebook www.rwjf.org/facebook.