(Courtesy Park City School District)

Park City Elementary Schools Win National HealthierUS School Challenge Award
Schools are the First in Utah to Earn the Award

Park City School District’s four elementary schools have earned the bronze level of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC). Park City is the first district in Utah to have HUSSC schools. The schools join the ranks of an elite group recognized nationally for health, nutrition, and fitness excellence. Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Utah State Office of Education will present the schools their award on Tuesday, March 22.

The goal of the Challenge is to improve the health of the nation’s children by promoting healthier school environments. In order to merit the recognition, the schools had to improve the quality of the foods served through the School Lunch Program, provide students with nutrition education, and provide students with physical education and opportunities for physical activity.

Kathleen Britton, Director of Child Nutrition Services for Park City School District, was excited about the award. “It’s a great feather in our cap,” she said. “But the most important thing is that children will be healthier because of the changes we have made.” Britton went on to recognize the efforts of the nutrition staff at the schools in changing lunch menus to meet the award criteria.

Each of the schools (Jeremy Ranch, McPolin, Parley’s Park, and Trailside) will receive a $500 monetary incentive, an award plaque signed by a USDA official, a banner to display in their school, and their name listed on the Team Nutrition website.

To qualify for an award, a school must submit a formal application and meet basic criteria set forth by the USDA Food and Nutritional Service. The HUSSC criteria reflect the recommendations of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and the Institute of Medicine published recommendations for foods that should be served in schools, outside of the organized school lunch meals. HealthierUS Schools must also have a local school wellness policy, as mandated by Congress. Schools receiving a HUSSC award commit to meeting the criteria throughout their four-year certification period.

The HUSSC application process was spearheaded by Britton. A team of school professionals and a representative of the Utah State Office of Education reviewed the application.