Healthier menus welcome students back to school

Students across King County will have more options for healthy food this school year, including those in Renton. From healthier choices in vending machines to more local produce in the lunch line, schools are rapidly becoming better places to nurture learning and good health.

The changes are a result of both new national nutrition guidelines and local efforts by schools and Public Health – Seattle & King County in the fight against childhood obesity. About one in five students in King County are overweight or obese, increasing their risk of serious health problems in childhood and into adulthood.

“Our partnership with schools is starting to pay off with a recent drop in youth obesity for the first time in King County,” said Patty Hayes, director of Public Health - Seattle and King County, in a press release. “We know that access to healthy food in schools is not only critical for health, but crucial for student learning.”

Healthy changes to expect this fall in Renton

• Farm to School: Through Farm to School, Renton School District is partnering with Auburn and Kent School Districts to purchase large amounts of produce from local farms. This program is funded through the Community Transformation Grant (CTG) and coordinated by Washington State Department of Agriculture. For more information visit Nutrition Services Farm to School webpage.

• Updated nutrition and physical activity policy: The Wellness Committee consisting of a representative group including Nutrition Services staff, teachers, administrators, parents and community organizations updated the Health and Wellness Policy and Procedures.    The Renton School Board passed the Nutrition and Physical Activity Policy  and Procedures on August 13, 2014.

Harvest of the Month: Renton School District will promote a local fruit or vegetable each month through Harvest of the Month and nutrition education in the classroom.

About national nutrition guidelines

Starting this school year, United States Department of Agriculture nutrition guidelines will be expanded to all food and beverages sold in schools including vending machines, student stores and at fundraisers.

Vending machine and other snacks will have fat, sugar, salt, caffeine and calories limits.

Snacks must be at least 50 percent whole-grain or have fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein as the first ingredient.

“We are delighted with the changes coming this school year to make all foods in our schools healthier and consistent with nutrition education taught in our classrooms,” said Wendy Weyer, Director of Nutrition Services for Seattle Public Schools. “We know that access to healthy, nutritious food supports student learning and helps establish healthy habits for the rest of their lives.”

The changes were supported, in part, by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Community Transformation Grant within the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. The initiative is a collaborative effort between Seattle Children’s, Public Health—Seattle & King County (PHSKC) and the Healthy King County Coalition (HKCC).

-From a press release

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