fair oaks healthy awardFair Oaks Elementary is among 221 schools nationwide to receive the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchroom Award this winter.

Since its inception in 2004, the HealthierUS School Challenge program has recognized more than 4,500 schools throughout the U.S. for improving the quality of foods served, providing students with healthier food choices, and enhancing physical activity programs.  

Anne Strootman, resource manager at Fair Oaks, applied for the award on behalf of the school, detailing its nutrition education efforts and describing the physical activity opportunities available to students. As part of the award application process, Strootman said the school conducted a Smarter Lunchroom assessment—to better understand its strengths and identify areas for improvement—and convened a health and wellness committee. This committee was tasked with implementing a plan to help increase the number of minutes Fair Oaks students are active each day, as well as determine ways to promote nutrition education schoolwide.

By earning the silver award distinction, Fair Oaks will receive a $1,000 incentive, along with a banner and plaque to display in the school.

“We plan to use the incentive to further support our initiatives in creating more opportunities for before- and after-school fitness activities,” Strootman said.

The HealthierUS School Challenge award marks the second national award for Fair Oaks this school year. Last fall, Fair Oaks was one of only 14 Minnesota schools to receive a $1,000 “Game On” grant from Action for Healthy Kids® to help expand student access to physical activity and healthy eating.

Principal Phil Sadler said his school’s focus on nutrition, exercise and overall student well-being is important.

“We are committed to creating a positive, healthy environment at Fair Oaks,” Sadler added. “There’s a lot of energy around student well-being here, and we’re excited that these awards will allow us to continue our work in this area.”

The HealthierUS School Challenge designation is a voluntary certification initiative for schools. It was incorporated into First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign efforts to raise a healthier generation of kids. Learn more.

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