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AHA fosters and supports community efforts to make healthy eating and physical activity the way of life in Wake County.

Advocating for Students’ Health: SHAC Recommendations to the School Board

 “The Healthy Zone” is a concession stand at a ballpark in New York with a goal to help people take small steps to living a healthier life. The stand was created to provide a one-stop shop for healthy cuisine (as opposed to options scattered throughout the ballpark). Perhaps this provides inspiration for what could happen in Wake County?

“The Healthy Zone” is a concession stand at a ballpark in New York with a goal to help people take small steps to living a healthier life. The stand was created to provide a one-stop shop for healthy cuisine (as opposed to options scattered throughout the ballpark). Perhaps this provides inspiration for what could happen in Wake County?

Several weeks ago, the media was abuzz about one of the recommendations in the School Health Advisory Council’s (SHAC) 2013 report to members of the Wake County Board of Education (BOE).

The SHAC is an advisory group of school and community representatives acting collectively to advise the school district on a Coordinated School Health Program. The 18-member group presented a number of recommendations to the BOE, including these that specifically related to nutrition and physical activity:

  • Enhance awareness of Staff Wellness programs (such as Eat Smart, Move More, Weight Less, a statewide staff wellness program, and expand health promotion efforts and collaboration with the State Health Plan, Wake County Human Services and others offering low-cost or free programs
  • Adherence to and enforcement of Wellness Policy 5125.3 (F)Schools will not use food or beverages of minimal nutritional value as rewards for academic performance or good behavior. The SHAC also recommended amending Policy 5125.3 (D):  Disallow fundraisers that involve unhealthy food or beverages during and outside of the school day.
  • Increase the required Healthful Living credits for high school graduation from 1 to 4.
  • Adherence to WCPSS Board Policy 5120 to ensure all students receive daily activity and physical education. Scheduling challenges in some schools have limited the amount of physical education offered to less than what is prescribed by Policy 5120.
  • Encourage physical activity strategies that can be implemented in non-Healthful Living classrooms. Examples includetheWalking Classroom — An in-school obesity intervention that promotes health literacy and development and Energizers, classroom based physical activities that help teachers integrate physical activity with academic concepts.

    Here's a healthy concession stand at a children's gymnastics fitness competition; the concessions made $1,967 collectively, $1,412.09 net profit!

    Here’s a healthy concession stand at a children’s gymnastics fitness competition; the concessions made $1,967 collectively, $1,412.09 net profit!

Interestingly, leading up to the meeting, there was a great deal of media coverage over the recommendation to disallow fundraisers involving unhealthy foods and beverages during and outside of the school day—this would include concessions at sporting events, for example.

An article in the News & Observer the morning of the School Board meeting about this recommendation sparked the media attention, which all went away immediately after the meeting, when budget considerations took center stage.

AHA supports SHAC’s recommendations, and this AHA letter to the editor was printed the day after the school board meeting. Several local television stations covered the story leading up to the BOE’s meeting as well, and while the stories led with a sensational view of the topic, there was some inclusion of support for the idea.

It’s About Options

More healthy concessions that netted profits and parents appreciated.

More healthy concessions that netted profits and parents appreciated.

As AHA Director Sheree Vodicka pointed out in her letter, what is important here is that, at a minimum, healthy options are available. For example, Fuquay-Varina Elementary School PTA President Tami Davis said that her school chose to provide a healthy fundraiser this year (a walking program led by a national company) that netted the school nearly 4 times as much money through the fun, active event than its cookie dough, pizza, wrapping paper and candy catalog items all combined in the previous year. Davis said the PTA took this step because parents want the school to provide healthy options. “When healthy choices are provided, kids go for them,” Davis said. In addition to this fundraiser that got students physically active, the PTA includes apple slices now for its movie night, in addition to popcorn, and for dine-out fundraisers, the school intentionally chose a frozen yogurt business over an ice cream store.

The football team for Panther Creek High School in western Cary has hosted a mulch fundraiser for the last several years where people can order mulch through the team and then have students come spread the mulch on a given day. Not only are they raising funds to support their program, but they are providing a service to community members and being physically active while they provide this service.

Check out other fundraising ideas at the Fuel Your School tab on AHA’s web site, the North Carolina PTA healthy fundraiser guide and National PTA’s suggestions.

Parents Speak Out

This blog article came across AHA’s desk in the midst of this media buzz. This mother and blogger is taking a stand against unhealthy foods at her child’s school. Her comments, and those of her readers, are all food for thought. While the topic is slightly different from the concessions issue, it speaks to parents’ concerns about what food their children have access to at school.

If you’re concerned about concessions sold at school and want to see healthy options provided, advocates for that. The photos above appeared in this article. Learn more about The Healthy Zone pictured above.

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