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Surround Children with Nutritious Food Where They Live, Learn, and Play

Why Should I Care?
We have all experienced hunger at one time or another: We've all craved a midnight snack, wanted something salty or skipped a meal. But there's a big difference between trying to satisfy a brief craving or stomach growl and wondering when or from where your next meal will come. More than 16.7 million-one in six-children in America are at risk of hunger. Many of these children will endure lifelong consequences as a result of having limited access to nutritious foods. In fact, they're more likely to suffer poorer health, fatigue, hospitalizations, behavioral difficulties and impaired performance at school. And hunger doesn't discriminate. It can affect any child-even those you'd least expect. Despite the good efforts of governments, private-sector institutions and everyday Americans, millions of our children still don't have daily access to the nutritious meals they need to live active, healthy lives.

What Can I Do?
Help kick off a local school's breakfast program to ensure all kids get a good start to the day
We all know that starting the day with a healthy breakfast is critical for our young people. This toolkit is designed for individuals who have an interest in increasing the number of schools and children participating in the School Breakfast Program, determining the type of meal service most suited to their needs and developing a marketing plan that will capture the attention and support of everyone involved with the lives of school children: http://www.fns.usda.gov/CND/Breakfast/toolkit/Default.htm

Serve fresh fruits and vegetables to school children
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) can be an important catalyst in efforts to combat childhood obesity by helping children learn more healthful eating habits. The program targets schools with high percentage of children receiving free and reduced price school meals. It has been successful in introducing children to a variety of produce that they otherwise might not have the opportunity to sample. Encouraging more elementary schools to apply for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program will create healthier school environments and make a difference in school children's present and future health. http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/FFVP/FFVPdefault.htm

Create a School Health Council to assess and improve your school district's Wellness Policy
Schools that participate in the National School Lunch and/or School Breakfast programs are required by Congress to have a local wellness policy that promotes the health of students and addresses the growing problem of childhood obesity. Local wellness policies help ensure that schools are addressing child health in a comprehensive way, including nutritious food, nutrition education, physical education and preventive screening. Learn how you can support your school district's efforts here: http://teamnutrition.usda.gov/healthy/wellnesspolicy.html

Share your great healthy school meal ideas with other schools
There is a role for the culinary community to play in ensuring our schools provide nutritious food to students. Already chefs across the country are connecting with schools to share recipes, ideas about nutritionally balanced meals and other support. Visit this user-friendly website join the discussion. http://healthymeals.nal.usda.gov/chefs-move-schools

Success Story
North Carolina's Healthy Schools Initiative: In North Carolina, concern for the health of students has led the General Assembly to take a variety of actions to emphasize the importance of health in early life. For example, the North Carolina Healthy Schools Initiative was established to encourage the development of coordinated school health programs, a model which includes health education, health services, healthy school environment, counseling, psychological and social services, physical education, nutrition services, staff wellness and family and community involvement. Many of these programs and services exist in schools and communities yet the system of delivery is often fragmented and uncoordinated. A coordinated approach to school health improves the health of young people. It also enhances their capacity to learn through the support of families, schools, and communities working together. At its core, Coordinated School Health is about keeping students healthy over time, reinforcing positive healthy behaviors throughout the school day, and making it clear that good health and learning go hand in hand.