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USDA Awards LAUSD With "Healthier US School Challenge" Honors

490 LAUSD Schools Received $252,000 to Further Promote Nutrition & Physical Activity at Their Campuses

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Principals, teachers, students and staff at 490 campuses across Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) received an early holiday present from the USDA today, collectively accepting a total of $252,000 for winning "Healthier US Schools Challenge" (HUSSC) awards for promoting nutrition and physical activities at their respective schools.  HUSSC is a voluntary initiative established in 2004 to recognize those schools participating in the National School Lunch Program which have created healthier school environments through the promotion of nutrition and physical activity.


"This accomplishment reinforces our commitment to serve nutritious meals and encourage our students to stay fit," said LAUSD Superintendent Dr. John Deasy. "Studies show that when students eat right, exercise regularly and get proper rest, their health not only improves, but they also do better in school." 

Awarded the most HUSSC awards in 2011, LAUSD received recognition and monetary awards based on the schools' commitment to promoting health and nutrition: Bronze ($500), Silver ($1,000) and Gold Award of Distinction ($2,000).  Top honors were received by the following campuses:

Gold Award of Distinction:                               


Castelar Elementary School                     

112th Street Elementary School

Glassell Park Elementary School              

Brockton Elementary School

Lorena Elementary School                        

Leland Elementary School

Purche Elementary School

Reseda Elementary School

In February 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama introduced Let's Move!, incorporating the Healthier US School Challenge into her campaign to raise a generation of healthier children.  At that time, monetary incentive awards became available for each HUSSC award level: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Gold Award of Distinction.

Criteria to become a HUSSC school include: enrollment as a Team Nutrition School and having a nutrition advocate on campus; offering meals that demonstrate healthy menu planning practices; providing nutrition and physical education to students, and the opportunity for physical activity. Schools that received the Gold Award of Distinction have more than 65 percent of students participate in the school meal program, and a minimum of 10 percent of the student population eat the vegetable of the day. In addition, all of these schools do not serve/sell those foods not approved (competitive foods) by the USDA, the California Department of Education (CDE) or District policy.

"These awards became a reality as a result of our partnership with the Office of Physical Education, Food Services Division, Network for a Healthy California—LAUSD, Beyond the Bell and Student Health and Human Services Division," said David Binkle, LAUSD Director of Food Services.  "To receive these many awards is truly an honor and the monetary contributions would go a long away to further educate students about the importance of healthy eating and physical activity."

LAUSD's Food Services Department has been one of the leaders in setting school food nutrition policies nationally.  Aside from the HUSSC awards, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a national nonprofit organization that promotes healthy diets, honored LAUSD's Food Services Department with the "Golden Carrot" for making major nutritional policy changes thereby establishing the District as a recognized national leader in the effort to promote healthy food and lifestyles to combat diabetes, obesity and other health issues.  The California Endowment also honored Food Services Director David Binkle with the "Health Happens Hero" award for his efforts to deliver healthy, nutritious, and delicious meals to local students. 

Since 2002, LAUSD has instituted major nutritional policy changes making the District a recognized national leader in the effort to promote healthy food and lifestyles to combat diabetes, obesity and other health issues. LAUSD continually revamps its menu to offer a variety of student-approved, plant-based entrees, including vegetable tamales, fresh salads, vegetable bean burgers, and tortellini with a butternut squash sauce. In addition, the District created the "I'M IN" campaign, an all-inclusive program designed to raise awareness about the District's healthy meals to help fight childhood obesity and to encourage student attendance. 

In 2004, the CDE and LAUSD began monitoring physical education programs to ensure that the proper quality and quantity are provided to District students to learn the skills and knowledge to be physically active and healthy adults. With the strong leadership of the school board and superintendent, LAUSD has created policy changes to combat obesity-related diseases and implement the "physical education plan" that has been recognized as a best practice example for the school districts throughout California to provide quality physical education for all students.

For a full list of schools awarded, see attached, visit Team Nutrition website at: or the LAUSD Food Services
Website at:  For more information about the "I'M IN" campaign, visit

SOURCE Los Angeles Unified School District

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