Healthier snacks go to the head of the classFueled by the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) Grant and the Cloquet School Wellness Committee, the Cloquet School District recently implemented a healthy snack list for students for the 2012-2013 school year.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Students in the Cloquet School District – and their families – now have the opportunity to take a giant step toward healthier eating. Fueled by the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) Grant and the Cloquet School Wellness Committee, the Cloquet School District recently implemented a healthy snack list for students for the 2012-2013 school year.
“Concerns have been raised by the Wellness Committee for quite some time about the nutrition and health of students,” said Meghann Condit, health educator and SHIP grant coordinator for Carlton County, “and this is a tangible way to begin efforts to reduce the epidemic of childhood obesity right here in our area.”
The healthy snack list was developed with all students in mind and was compiled utilizing multiple resources. Condit said it is primarily based on the same guidelines from the Institute of Medicine put into place this year for school meals and it will serve as a guide for snacks that are approved to bring to school.
“We are first addressing the snacks brought to school by students, or group snacks in the classroom,” explained Condit. “We will be looking further into a policy during this next school year that would apply not only to those student-provided snacks but those used as teacher rewards and classroom celebrations as well.”
Condit said there has also been interest in doing something like a healthy snack cart for elementary students.
Though the state-funded SHIP initiative was created prior to Michelle Obama’s well-publicized campaign to cut down on childhood obesity, Condit said there are likely many ways to partner with that program as the local group moves forward, such as purchasing salad bars through Obama’s “Let’s Move Salad Bars” initiative.
“We have a full action plan based on our assessment, as well as ideas from the Wellness Committee that were developed last spring,” said Condit.
As a side note to the healthy snack list, the Cloquet School District started serving larger portions (and greater variety) of fruits and vegetables this year, working with local farmers here in Minnesota as much as possible.
“The school lunch guidelines are coming from the federal level and there is quite a bit of history behind why,” explained Condit. “It is very appropriate timing, however, because of the policy, systems and environmental changes we are already working on. The SHIP Grant is not focused on the school lunch program this round of funding because of the guidelines that schools are already expected to implement.”
The variety of the healthy snack choices identified by the district’s Wellness Committee will be labeled on purple paper as “Lumberjack Snacks” on the shelves at Super One to make it easier for parents, families and students to choose. They can be easily identified by the accompanying Lumberjack logo. Both the Cloquet Super One and Wal-Mart stores will have the complete snack lists available for shoppers to utilize while shopping at either store.
The list includes such nutritious offerings as fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dips, baked tortilla chips, salsa, low-fat milk, whole grain granola bars, low-fat cheeses, beef or turkey jerky and whole grain English muffins.
The entire list will be posted on the Pine Journal website at www.pinejournal.com.
Condit said area wide, the Moose Lake School District has implemented a policy regarding healthy snacks in school, and the Aitkin and Cook County schools have implemented healthy snack lists, along with multiple others around the state.
“We will continue to increase the promotion as the school year goes on,” said Condit, “with teacher memos and resources for them, as well as other related initiatives for school nutrition.”
If you have questions or concerns about this initiative, contact Sarah Elena, Cloquet school nurse, at 218-879-3393.