November 17, 2011

School’s healthy food options lauded

School’s healthy food options lauded

Nashville’s Fall-Hamilton Elementary School was recently honored at a reception hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House in Washington, D.C., celebrating the Healthier U.S. School Challenge Program, a U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative that sets benchmarks encouraging schools to create healthier environments through increased physical activity and better nutrition.

Through a series of grants and community partnerships with Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and other entities, Fall-Hamilton has been able to provide healthier food options to children, including offering whole grain foods and providing fruits and vegetables for afternoon snacks three days a week.

Benchmark levels are bronze, silver and gold. Fall-Hamilton has earned the bronze and silver benchmarks and is working on the gold during this school year.

“The key for us has been adopting a coordinated school health model,” said Theresa Hook, R.N., a community-based case worker for VUSN’s Faculty Practice, who attended the event.

“It means that you must involve the student and their families, teachers, school health services, nutrition personnel, school custodians and mental health professionals in such a way that the student can be the best they can be and have the best chance at learning.”

Hook and VUSN Community Health Nurse Practitioner students measure the students’ body mass index (BMI) each year, and the health trends are improving. For instance, in the 2003-2004 school year 42 percent of students had an unhealthy BMI, which was down to 34 percent last school year.