By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
Students attending Whitley County Schools get to eat healthy and nutritious food — so much so that seven of the district’s schools received national recognition from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (AHG) in September.
During the rescheduled regular meeting of the Whitley County Board of Education Thursday, Board member Brenda Hill told board members about attending the conference and awards ceremony in Little Rock, Ark.
“We had a really good time,” she said, adding the group attended different events and meetings. “We were busy the whole time we were there — it was a really good opportunity.”
Whitley County Schools sent a group of representatives from the district to receive the awards. Those attending were Vivian Cotterell for Central Intermediate School, Brenda Hill for Whitley East Elementary School, Shane Gibson for Pleasant View Elementary School, Stephanie Jones for Central Primary School, Ginger Downs for Boston Elementary School, Larry Brown for Whitley North Elementary School and Cymbre Crisologo for Oak Grove Elementary School.
Hill told board members Thursday that the alliance began soon after former president Bill Clinton had a heart attack in 2005.
She explained Clinton teamed up with the American Heart Association, and during that collaboration learned that most students receive 50 percent of their daily nutrition during school hours.
That’s when the push began to make school lunches healthier, according to Hill.
She added that Kentucky had 10 schools statewide recognized at this conference in Little Rock — and seven of those schools were in Whitley County.
The awards ceremony, held at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, honored schools nationwide for creating healthier environments for children to learn and staff to work.
The ceremony was part of the eighth annual Healthy Schools Program Forum. The Healthy Schools Program is part of the AHG, co-founded by the AHA and the Clinton Foundation.
“Giving children the right kind of food is crucial to their well-being and success,” Clinton said. “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.”
Hill said Clinton spoke at the ceremony for about 15 minutes.
The Alliance works with more than 18,000 schools nationwide reaching more than 11 million students, teachers and school staff. Funding for the Healthy Schools Program comes primarily from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires schools to implement updated nutrition standards beginning with the last school year with meals served through the federally-funded National School Lunch Program.
Those guidelines required more fruit, vegetables and while grains, a shift to low- or non-fat milk and calorie, sodium and fat limits.
Schools including Whitley County which participate in the Healthy Schools Program have access to national experts, in-person and online training and other resources to include sample menus and product lists which meet federal standards.
Hill added that all expenses incurred on the trip were paid for by the awards group.