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MCPS Elementary Schools Win National Honor for Focus on Student Health and Nutrition
Every elementary school in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has been honored by the United States Department of Agriculture for their outstanding practices in providing healthy meals, physical activity and nutrition education to students.
A total of 132 MCPS schools—all 131 elementary schools and one special school—are recipients of the Bronze-level HealthierUS School Challenge award, sponsored by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service. The awards were presented by USDA Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon at a special event on Friday, Sept. 9, at Arcola Elementary School in Silver Spring.
The USDA is recognizing 1,159 schools nationwide in 2011. MCPS is one of only a few school systems in the nation where all elementary schools are receiving the award. Each school will receive a banner and plaque from USDA.
“This award is a great recognition of the efforts under way in MCPS to ensure that our children have the best learning environments both inside and outside the classroom,” said Montgomery County Board of Education President Christopher S. Barclay. “We all know that our children learn better when they eat well, exercise and live a healthier lifestyle.”
“Providing healthy learning environments for our students is paramount,” said Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr. “If our children are going to succeed academically at the highest levels, we have a responsibility to make sure they eat well, get exercise and understand what it means to live a healthy lifestyle.”
The HealthierUS School Challenge initiative encourages all schools to take a leadership role in helping students make healthier eating and physical activity choices that will last a lifetime. In recent years, MCPS has made changes to enhance the quality of foods that are served, provide nutrition education in the classroom and ensure that children have opportunities for physical activity during the school day.
“The HealthierUS School Challenge achievement demonstrates Montgomery County’s deep commitment to create and maintain a healthy school environment in every one of their elementary schools by promoting good nutrition and physical activity,” Under Secretary Concannon said. “This event helps highlight the importance of the HealthierUS School Challenge and some of the ways that children and communities can become involved.”
In recent years, MCPS has adopted a number of changes to make school meals healthier. All flavored milks are non-fat, and snacks served to students are in alignment with the MCPS Wellness Policy, ensuring that sodium, fat, saturated fat and sugar are within prescribed guidelines. All cafeteria lines offer a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables at breakfast and lunch, and cafeteria serving lines feature signage that provides calorie information for items served.
The MCPS website provides parents complete nutritional information on all food items available to students. Allergen information for food items is also provided on the MCPS website.
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