As part of the celebration of the third anniversary of Let's Move!, First Lady Michelle Obama this week highlighted change focused on children, from new school lunches nationwide to localities where the childhood obesity rate is declining. Mrs. Obama praised these changes, and called on leaders from across the nation to keep working to improve our children's health.
The First Lady joined TV personality Rachael Ray to highlight the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, signed into law by the President in 2010.
Because of the Act, the 32 million students who eat lunch provided by their school are now seeing more fruits, vegetables, low-fat or fat-free milk varieties, and whole grains; less saturated fat and sodium; and proper portion size on their lunch trays.
The two women highlighted Mississippi, which was rated the most obese state in the nation, because the state's childhood obesity rates have declined by 13% among elementary school students in recent years.
"We've seen real, measurable declines in the rates of childhood obesity right here in Mississippi, and in places like Philadelphia, New York City and California. And there is no reason why this success can't happen in cities and states all across this country, if we're willing to work for it," said First Lady Michelle Obama. "So now is truly the time to double down on our efforts. We know what works, we know how to get results, now we just need to step up, and put in the energy, and effort and imagination."
The Clinton Public School District in Mississippi, where the First Lady visited, is an example of such a comprehensive effort to improve school nutrition and children's health.
CPSD mobilized the entire community to support their children's physical wellness and academic achievement. With leadership from the Superintendent, Board of Education, parents, students and community leaders, Clinton made healthy schools a top priority and implemented district-wide changes to bring physical activity and nutritious choices to students, all without additional funding.
In 2008, the Clinton School District performed a district-wide assessment of all aspects of school wellness through school health councils and the child nutrition director for the district. From the assessment, the district formed a plan to provide healthier school environments across the district through coordinated school health programming, which encouraged each school to form a school health council with students, parents, faculty, and community members.
In 2011, a health and wellness goal was added to Clinton Public School District's strategic plan, making the health and wellness of its students and employees one of the district's top five strategic plan goals, as important as academic achievement, recruiting and retaining great teachers and providing safe, technology friendly facilities. T
Today there are a number of programs and activities in place throughout the school district to encourage healthy lifestyle choices. Clinton's schools were able to increase fruits and vegetables for student meals, ensure that nutrition education was taught in the classroom, and incorporate physical activity throughout the school day.