13 Norwalk Schools Earn the HealthierUS School Challenge Bronze Award

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Eleven Elementary Schools, one Charter School and one High School at Norwalk Public Schools join an elite group of over 2800 schools certified as HUSSC schools. These schools are committed to promoting healthy lifestyles choices and creating a wholesome school environment.

The goal is to have every school in the district certified as a HUSSC school.

The USDA established the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) to recognize schools participating in the National School Lunch Program that create healthier school environments by providing nutrition education, nutritious food and beverage choices, physical education and opportunities for physical activity. This initiative is a main component in First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, an effort to end the childhood obesity epidemic.

Last year in October, Norwalk’s Brookside Elementary School was the first school in the district to be awarded the HUSSC Bronze Level Award. According to Lisa Cantor, Whitsons Food Service Director at Norwalk Public Schools, “We tested the waters with this first certification. Once that was achieved, we were ready to accomplish the certification of the entire district.”

This March, thirteen Norwalk schools were awarded the HUSSC Bronze Level distinction: Columbus Magnet Elementary School, Cranbury Elementary School, Fox Run Elementary School, Jefferson Science Magnet School, Kendall Elementary School, Marvin Elementary School, Naramake Elementary School, Rowayton Elementary School, Silvermine Elementary School, Tracey Elementary School, Wolfpit Elementary School, Richard C. Briggs High School and Side by Side Charter School.

This recognition is the product of a joint effort between the nursing staff at Norwalk Public Schools and Whitsons School Nutrition, food service providers at Norwalk Public Schools. Lisa Cantor, Food Service Director and Grace Vetter, Director of Health Services, were the main drivers of this initiative along with the Norwalk nursing staff, members of the Parent Teacher Organization, teachers, principals and administrators.

In order to qualify for the Bronze award, each school had to demonstrate that it met all the HUSSC nutritional requirements on an on-going basis, serving a variety of healthier foods that appeal to the students, planning meals that feature fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products; and that include lean proteins and foods low in saturated fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars. Furthermore, the school was required to prove its compliance with the health and physical education criteria of the HUSSC according to age group.

With this award, Norwalk Public Schools reiterates its commitment to promoting a healthy school environment for its students. The goal is to have every school in the district certified as a HUSSC school. Currently, the certification of the secondary schools is being processed.

About Whitsons School Nutrition:
Whitsons School Nutrition provides a wide range of highly customized dining services to public and private schools, with a strong focus on nutritious, high quality meals made from fresh, wholesome ingredients. Whitsons has a long and proud history of excellence and growth since 1979 and currently ranks the 16th largest dining company in the United States (Food Management magazine, September 2011). In addition to school nutrition, Whitsons’ scope of expertise and services extends to: culinary development, residential and healthcare dining, delivered meals, corporate dining, emergency dining and vending services.

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Sonia Garrido