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Gold medals instead of gold stars: Schools with healthy makeovers get awards -- and money

October 08, 2010

Take one school, add healthier school lunches, better nutrition education and lots of physical activity and you pretty much have the winning recipe for the HealthierUS School Challenge. The voluntary program, run by the federal government since 2004, got a boost in February when First Lady Michelle Obama stepped up to add her Let's Move campaign for schoolchildren.

Just like the Olympic Games, the program awards medals to schools participating in the national school lunch program that meet the criteria. There's also money to be won. Still, just 854 awards have been given out to schools in 38 states, a number program officials hope to boost to 1,250 schools by June.

Schools snagging awards (the top prize comes with $2,000) aren't coming from big school districts. California, for example, has just seven schools getting gold medals, and all are in a small school district in the San Joaquin Valley. In New York, five schools upstate and two in a Long Island town won awards.

The Chicago Tribune reports on the trend for schools to improve their nutritional and physical bottom line in "U.S. gives school a clean bill of health" and "Chicago's chefs spice up schools' new push for healthy eating."

-- Mary Forgione / Los Angeles Times

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