The Alliance for a Healthier Generation

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1 The Alliance for a Healthier Generation The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, was formed in 2005 as a response to the dramatic increase in prevalence of childhood obesity across the nation. Currently, as many as 1 in 3 students in most states meet the criteria for overweight or obese. The goal of the Alliance is to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity by 2015 by fostering an environment that helps all kids pursue healthy and active lifestyles. To that end the Alliance is working to positively affect the health of children by forging voluntary agreements with the healthcare and food service industries and by working with kids and schools across the nation. New Jersey 2012 The Alliance believes that helping schools is one of the most efficient and effective ways to shape the lifelong health and well-being of children and adolescents. That is why the Alliance has created the Healthy Schools Program, which aims to improve schools in the areas of nutrition, physical activity and staff wellness. The Alliance launched the Healthy Schools Program in February of 2006 with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Major Accomplishments By engaging and activating the leaders who can transform the environments and communities that nurture our children, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation: Supports more than 14,000 schools in all 50 states in transforming their environments into places where students have better access to physical activity and healthier foods before, during and after school. Works with out-of-school time programs in creating healthier environments and empowering all kids to make healthy choices and become advocates for physical activity and healthy eating. Brokered voluntary agreements with the beverage, snack and dairy industries that has contributed to an 88 percent decrease in total beverage calories shipped to U.S. schools between 2004 and Negotiated agreements with 13 of the leading school meals manufacturers, group purchasing organizations and technology companies to develop, market and competitively price healthier school meal options. Convened national medical associations, leading insurers and employers that agreed to offer comprehensive health benefits to children and families for the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity. A Quick Look at Childhood Obesity in New Jersey Percentage of children ages years who are overweight or obese 1 NJ State rank for overweight or obese children (1 is best) 1 27 Estimated adult obesity-attributable medical expenditures, (in 2003 dollars) 2 National 31% 31.6% $2,342 M Rank in 2003: 36 $75 Billion National Survey of Children s Health edition of F as in Fat, published by Trust for America s Health.

2 The Healthy Schools Program The Alliance believes that helping schools is one of the most efficient and effective ways to shape the lifelong health and well-being of children and adolescents. That is why the Alliance has created the Healthy Schools Program, which aims to improve schools in the areas of nutrition, physical activity and staff wellness. The Alliance launched the Healthy Schools Program in February of 2006 with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Healthy Schools Program provides technical support to schools across the country in their efforts to engage the entire school community (including administrators, parents and school vendors) in increasing access to physical activity and healthier foods for students and staff. In addition to providing schools with best practice resources and support, the Healthy Schools Program recognizes successful schools through a national award program. The work of the Healthy Schools Program is based on the Healthy Schools Program Framework, a set of best practice guidelines developed by a national panel of experts that serves as a roadmap for creating a healthier school environment. These guidelines form the basis of the National Recognition Program which awards schools at the Bronze, Silver or Gold levels based on the policy and programmatic changes made in seven separate areas; School Meals Competitive Foods and Beverages Health Education Physical Education Policy and Systems Employee Wellness Student Wellness The Healthy Schools Program outlines the course of action for making sustainable changes in its Six Step Process: Step 1: Convene a school wellness council to plan and lead implementation of the Healthy Schools Program in the school. Step 2: Complete the Inventory in the Healthy Schools Builder to identify areas for improvement. Step 3: Develop an Action Plan based on what is important and achievable in the school community. Step 4: Identify resources that can facilitate implementation of the Action Plan. Step 5: Take Action! Follow the Action Plan to create a healthier school environment. Step 6: Celebrate Success! The Healthy Schools Program works with schools to celebrate small victories and big successes along the way. Every school has support from a Healthy Schools Program staff member who works one-on-one with the school to meet its wellness goals. Schools also have access to a team of staff with expertise in each content area. These content experts are available to support schools through phone or consultations, online trainings and professional development opportunities. Schools are able to access a wide variety of information and resources on the Healthy Schools Program website at healthiergeneration.org. Schools will find hundreds of success stories from schools around the country, toolkits that provide step-by-step information for meeting the best practice criteria, a wealth of local, state and national resources and funding opportunities to help them make meaningful and lasting changes to their school health environment. Who can join the Healthy Schools Program? Everyone. And there is no cost to join. STATE REPORT

3 State Specifics: New Jersey Table 1: Initial Year Participating Schools New Jersey Food Director Honored as Healthy Schools Program Champion Sal Valenza is the food service director of the West New York School District in West New York, New Jersey. Valenza s commitment to improve his student s health and wellness through more nutritious meals helped the West New York School District build healthier campus environments. He collaborated with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, his district colleagues, teachers and students, to develop a variety of innovative improvements for the district s school meals service. Their initiatives include inviting local chefs to provide lessons on nutrition and healthy food choices and increasing the daily offering of fresh fruits and vegetables. His dedication to offering positive health and wellness experiences on campus proved successful as eight of the West New York District s schools received National Recognition Awards from the Alliance s Healthy Schools Program, including the first Gold National Recognition Award awarded to Memorial High School. Students Enrolled , , , , ,589 Total ,704 Table 2. Characteristics of Participating Schools School Level Healthy Schools Participants (n = 184) All Schools in State (n = 2,936) Elementary 71% 61% Middle School 12% 13% High School 16% 15% Other/missing 2% 11% Free or Reduced-Price Lunch 0-24% 12% 64% 24-49% 3% 16% 50-74% 24% 9% % 60% 11% Primary Ethnicity Caucasian 14% 69% African American 27% 12% Hispanic 59% 15% School Locale City 35% 11% Suburb 63% 83% Rural or small town 2% 6% STATE REPORT

4 Table 3. A sample of Healthy Schools Program criteria and the percentage of participating schools in the state currently meeting the criteria, compared to participating schools across the country. School has an active wellness council/committee that meets at least every other month during the school year. School offers only unflavored low fat milk (1% or lower milk fat) or fat-free flavored milk with no more than 150 calories per 8 oz. Half of all grains at breakfast and half of all grains at lunch must be whole grains. All beverages for sale to students outside of the school meals program during the regular and extended school day meet or exceed the Alliance School Beverage Guidelines. HSP Schools in NJ (n = 177) HSP Schools in U.S. (n =4,252) 63% 70% 74% 89% 65% 77% 67% 75% Healthy Schools Inventory The Healthy Schools Inventory is an interactive online tool designed to help guide schools through the process of conducting a needs assessment, prioritizing action steps and developing a customized action plan for school health and wellness. All schools are encouraged to complete the Inventory soon after they begin participating in the program and at least once each year thereafter. The Healthy Schools Inventory is based on the Healthy Schools Program Framework and requires responses in seven content areas (i.e., Policy/Systems, School Meals, Competitive Foods and Beverages, Health Education, Physical Education, Student Wellness and Employee Wellness). The scoring rubric designates three levels of recognition for achievement: Bronze, Silver and Gold. The evaluation team uses the Healthy Schools Inventory to assess change in school policies and practices over time. All competitive foods for sale to students outside of the school meals program during the regular and extended school day meet the Alliance Competitive Foods Guidelines. At the high school level, comprehensive health education is taught in a term-long course for at least nine weeks. School staff have opportunities to participate in physical activities AND healthy eating programs. Requires all students at the elementary school level to participate in a minimum of 60 minutes of physical education per week (or 120 minutes of physical education per 2 weeks). 42% 59% 100% 85% 53% 58% 76% 71% Inventory Content Area Policy/Systems School Meals Competitive Foods and Beverages Health Education Physical Education School Employee Wellness Student Wellness Total Score State Nation Students are engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity at least 50% of physical education class time. 94% 93% 0% 25% 50% 75% 100% Percent of Schools School provides opportunities for students to participate in daily physical activity during the school day (excluding recess and physical education). 58% 62% Figure 1. Percent of schools showing an improvement of at least one item in each content area of the Healthy Schools Inventory for New Jersey (n = 118 schools) and for all states (n = 2,917 schools). STATE REPORT

5 Creative Scheduling Increases Physical Activity Opportunities for Students PATERSON SCHOOL NO 5 PATERSON, NEW JERSEY In only its first few months participating in the Alliance for a Healthier Generation s Healthy Schools Program, School No 5 has already made changes to its daily schedule to promote health and increase physical activity among students. The school has instituted recess before lunch, and has made creative use of a zero period in the school day to add in extra physical education (PE) for 6 th graders in order to meet the additional time requirement for PE for students in sixth grade. Physical education teachers Lil Dougherty and Dan Ring are the leaders of the wellness council at School 5. They started by building support for the Healthy Schools Program and convening a wellness council with school staff members. The council promptly took action by making its first change: instituting recess before lunch. It used the Healthy Schools Program resources to gather research on the benefits of recess before lunch. Next, the council members met with Principal Maria Santa and Vice Principal Christine Domaceno and used the research to advocate for recess before lunch. They made their case by explaining that recess before lunch results in 1) adequate time for students to eat lunch rather than rushing to go to recess 2) increased food consumption and decreased waste 3) improved student behavior in the lunchroom and after returning to class. The principals supported the idea and Vice Principal Mark Romei agreed to modify the school s daily schedule. If it s going to benefit the children, we ll make it work, said Santa. Next, the council members spoke with cafeteria manager Debbie Howard and the food service staff. They were hesitant at first to change the current system, but they agreed to try to accommodate the schedule change. School No 5 began with a pilot for recess before lunch with the sixth graders. Once this change had been implemented successfully, the kindergarten schedule was switched. The school then phased in the remaining grades by switching the recess and lunch schedule for one grade per month. So far recess first has proven to be successful. The children have time to blow off steam before lunch, said Gilman Choudhury, community liaison and parent coordinator at School No 5. We re lucky we have space where they can go outside to release energy. The cafeteria staff said that the students are calmer and they eat more during lunch. In addition, teachers now pick up students from the cafeteria where they are lined up, rather than from the field at the end of recess. Teachers are happy because their students are calm, ready to be picked up and ready to learn, Santa said. Nurse Marie Simeus said the change has reduced the number of upset stomachs that were prevalent among students after lunch. The nurse said that kindergarteners were eating lunch too quickly, and then going outside for recess and getting upset stomachs and throwing up. It used to be a total mess! Simeus said, Before, I would send three to four kids home every day. In the first two days of recess before lunch, there were no stomachaches. I have not sent any kindergarteners home since then. There is less traffic in my office now. Instituting recess to before lunch had the added bonus of giving kindergarteners free reign over the playground. This has reduced conflict and injuries on the playground since kindergarteners are not at recess with the older, larger students. It has made a big difference, Santa said. It has improved student behavior and increased instructional time. It shows us we can do it again next year. We will schedule recess before lunch. The next task the school wellness council took on was to increase the amount of physical education time for sixth graders. Every week, all students at School No 5 participate in two periods of physical education and one period of health education. While School No 5 is an elementary school, teachers Dougherty and Ring recognized that the sixth graders are technically a middle school grade. In order to provide the additional physical education time required for middle school students, School No 5 has implemented morning calisthenics for 30 minutes each week during an odd scheduling block known as zero period. As a result, all sixth graders participate in the required 90 minutes of physical education per week. In September, a weekly zero period of physical education will be an official part of every sixth grader s schedule. Next year the sixth graders will go to middle school where they will have five days of PE a week, Dougherty said. We are getting them ready. Principal Santa credits her amazing staff for making these healthy changes possible. If it is going to bring even a nugget of goodness for the children, we ll make it work, Santa said. STATE REPORT

6 Lettuce Be Healthy! MILLVILLE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL MILLVILLE, NEW JERSEY Since joining the Alliance for a Healthier Generation s Healthy Schools Program, Millville Senior High School has focused on sustaining and increasing opportunities for staff wellness as well as finding channels for their students to make lasting changes in their school community. The active and diverse wellness council expanded this year to include 12 student members who are eager to help empower their peers to make healthier choices. The students believe that offering a variety of healthy items, making the students aware of the nutritional values of different options and making the price of healthier options comparable or less than the unhealthy options would be a good start. They plan on starting a Wellness Corner column in their school newspaper and are launching a poster contest that will help market healthier choices in the cafeteria. School staff are gearing up to launch a healthy cookbook fundraiser called, Lettuce Be Healthy! Recipes are collected from staff and students contribute art work. The money they raise from selling the cookbooks are used for student scholarships. The wellness council has also supplied nutritious snacks for teacher planning meetings and the end of the year faculty breakfast. The council also started a bulletin board in the faculty lounge to share health tips and articles. The school has partnered with a local fitness facility to receive free passes and BMI testing for staff. A staff member is offering free Piloxing classes once a week after school and everyone has been invited to join a three month weight loss challenge. Funding Wellness with Coordination WEST NEW YORK SCHOOL DISTRICT WEST NEW YORK As districts across the country are looking for ways to cut more from tightening budgets, West New York has found a way to collect over one million additional dollars to help them fund their programs. Free and reduced lunch rates are the indicator that schools use to measure income level in schools. In turn, many federal dollars and programs are based on these rates. To accurately capture these rates may require coordination at the district level but, as West New York discovered, the effort to do so paid off! John Fraraccio, district supervisor of Health/PE and Healthy Schools Program champion and Sal Valenza, food services director, enlisted the help of physical education teachers throughout the district to help collect free and reduced lunch applications from all of their students. Once they had this information on the true number of students eligible, it enabled them to serve meals to those students but it also made them eligible for various grants and additional funds. As a result, from an initial district board of education financial commitment to wellness, staff has been able to attract grants, programs and funding that more than triples that investment. successes that everyone feels good about and it keeps efforts moving. The success of the wellness team to attract funding has enabled them to keep the wellness line item in the district budget, despite the current economic climate. The most important change is the positive impact funding these programs has had on students. However, another result of working with the Healthy Schools Program has been the coordination between various staff members and the schools wellness councils. Staff inform each other when they see opportunities and they work together to bring in programs and address gaps. One lesson they have learned is that success builds on success. Community partners hear about honors, grants and the positive impact on students and they want to be a part of it. West New York has a USDA Fresh Fruits and Vegetables grant. Student fruit and vegetable consumption is up and it is visible in the schools and in what students say. Positively impacting kids is the reason all of these changes are being made. STATE REPORT

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