Helping schools fight childhood obesity with new $$
File photo: First Lady Michelle Obama working in the White House garden as part of her Let's Move! initiative.
March 2nd, 2011
05:42 PM ET

Helping schools fight childhood obesity with new $$

WASHINGTON (CNN) –– Saying schools are the "frontlines of our efforts to fight childhood obesity," first lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the government is amping up efforts to get schools to serve more nutritious meals.

In a conference call Wednesday with educators and parent groups from around the country, Vilsack said the Department of Agriculture is putting up $5.5 million dollars in an effort to entice more school districts to join the HealthierUS School Challenge.

Right now only about 500 schools are certified in the program which sets concrete goals to serve more nutritious school meals. The participating schools adopt USDA standards for the food they serve and also agree to educate teachers, parents and kids on how to eat healthier and offer physical activity programs.

The USDA grants of up to $50,000 will be offered to state agencies that can show they've implemented specific strategies to increase the number of schools applying to the HealthierUS School Challenge in their state. The program was established in 2004 but only about a thousand schools have qualified in the ensuing years and many schools have dropped out. When the first lady announced her Let's Move initiative in 2010 with the goal of raising a "healthier generation" of kids, the HealthierUS School Challenge was incorporated into her campaign.

Mrs. Obama acknowledged school budgets are tight in this current economic climate saying, "you all are facing shrinking budgets and limited resources...a lot of school districts are struggling just to provide the basics." But she emphasized schools that become certified in the program can also qualify for monetary rewards, from $500 to $2000. She said representatives from award winning schools would also be invited to a reception at the White House.

Mrs. Obama said her goal was to double the number of schools in the HealthierUS School Challenge in 2011and add 1,000 new schools per year over the next two years.

The USDA says many children get half their daily calories each day at school.

Topics: Michelle Obama • The News

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Jay in NC

    Caption for this picture should read... This pumpkin was created or saved for only $3,000 kids.

    If you want to teach the children about good nutrition then start with how the food is grown. Kids, please do not eat the food grown at the White House it may be chocked full of toxins. I doubt seriously that the soil in Washington DC is fit to grow veggies. Think of all the decades of air pollution and run off from roof tops.

    March 2, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  2. Liz Carter in Georgia

    My goodness, another put down, huh? Well, I guess you ought to say the same thing about many neighborhood and community gardens in big cities across the UNITED STATES! There are even some roof top gardens. Some people are optimistic and many people are pessimistic. I say grace over my food whenever I eat, because I know wherever they were grown there's a great possibility of toxins and perservatives being in them! The food had to get from the farms to the stores and then sit in the stores until it's sold!

    March 2, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
  3. Liz Carter in Georgia

    AMERICA has been 'killing us sofly' with food, alcohol, drugs, and war for many, many years! FOOD? We all have to eat; so I pray over it and so far I'm still here, by the grace of GOD. I may be going slowly and softly but I'm still here! However, what I'm sure I see now is that as long as BARAK and MICHELLE OBAMA stay black, and stay in that WHITEHOUSE, they will never be able to satisfy some, on any front, no matter what they do or say! That is so pitiful to me. For those to say it ain't so, is ASSININE!

    March 2, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  4. Jay in NC

    Liz, yes I would say the same thing about neighborhood and community gardens in big cities across the United States. Before you plant you should test the soil and your water source. I have seen some crazy tings used to contain gardens the most frightful is pressure treated lumber. That stuff is toxic. It can not be used in playgrounds. As far as roof top gardens, hopefully the person did not put the garden directly on the roof. It should be in a suitable container / liner. The White House garden should be tested for toxins. We need to know if the food grown there is safe to eat.

    Your racist comments are getting out of hand again. I understand if you do not agree with me but this is not a white or black issue. It is about food safety and government spending. To try and twist any negative comment about Barry and The First Date into a racial issue is, well, racist on your part.

    March 3, 2011 at 7:35 am |
    • Rihant

      to a friendly crowd among the hard-Left elite moiailnlires in San Francisco. Obama slammed small-town voters as bitter xenophobes who “cling” to guns and religion only because — and this is particularly revealing — “government failed them”. His solution was to provide an even bigger dose of government intervention in order to get them to see the Utopia that he would create. And now we see that President Obama implementing his radical perverted view of government of 1 trillion dollars worth of earmarks. Example: Millions for condoms??? This will supply unending fodder for Rush.

      March 2, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  5. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Jay, when I post MY opinions of my assessments of what I see as race-based opinions and pure hate-filled, slanderous, rhetorical poison against the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, BARACK OBAMA and FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA, covertly hidden or smothered in a gravy of so-called 'deep political concerns' and even fake concerns of their personal and family agenda; I haven't gotten out of hand YET! I'm just pointing it out! I'll CONTINUE to do so, whenever possible. Since I'm 'racist', I guess I should KNOW!

    March 3, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
  6. Liz Carter in Georgia

    I will not let you nor anyone else 'boo' me from calling a 'duck a duck' and confronting it on this blog, any other blog or anywhere, to anyone at anytime when I deem it necessary! AMERICANS are in big denial, and that's why many don't want to claim it's great existance, but it has never left us, OK? I know I maybe a 'one man army', but I will fight that evil with all my might, and as long as I'm able! About Mrs OBAMAS' garden, if that was LAURA BUSHS garden, you wouldn't have gone on the 'toxin trip'!

    March 3, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  7. tryecrot

    Yes there should realize the opportunity to RSS commentary, quite simply, CMS is another on the blog.

    August 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm |