The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

January 19, 2013

National honor: Hayes garners award in HealthierUS School Challenge

ENID, Okla. — Hayes Elementary has garnered a national award by promoting healthier nutrition — and is the only Oklahoma school to get the award.

Officials from the United States Department of Agriculture’s HealthierUS School Challenge will come to Hayes Feb. 14 to present the Silver award, along with a $1,000 check.

Jane Johnson, principal at Hayes, said the school made a four-year commitment to participate in the challenge.

The current school year is the second of the four years.

“We submitted an application and turned in so many months of menus,” Johnson said. “The central cafeteria worked with us to meet the qualifications. We submitted documentation that we were doing classroom nutrition instruction.”

Another requirement is sufficient physical activity, Johnson said.

Johnson said teachers and nutrition staff were not the only ones who jumped into the effort. Parents also joined in.

“We were looking at the whole ‘being healthier’ thing,” Johnson said.

For instance, holiday parties at school no longer involve foods. Instead, there are games, arts and crafts to celebrate the holiday theme.

“We have other ways to have fun around the holidays,” Johnson said.

Johnson said she’s seen many benefits in participating in the program.

“It was an easy transition, and I can see us applying again,” Johnson said.

According to the USDA website, HUSSC is a voluntary certification initiative established in 2004, to recognize those schools participating in the National School Lunch Program that have created healthier school environments through promotion of nutrition and physical activity.

According to HUSSC, awards have been given to schools in 49 states and the District of Columbia. As of last month, 4,796 schools were certified.

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