AgCenter helps school meet health challenge

Tobie Blanchard, McCarty, Shatonia  |  5/10/2013 12:02:56 AM

News Release Distributed 05/09/13

Barbe Elementary School in Lake Charles received a gold award of distinction from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service’s HealthierUS Schools Challenge Tuesday (May 7) at the Calcasieu Parish School Board meeting. The award recognizes schools that have created healthier school environments through promotion of nutrition and physical activity.

Shatonia McCarty, an LSU AgCenter nutrition agent, and Carol Sensley, with Southern University AgCenter, worked with Barbe to meet the challenge. Armed with the AgCenter’s Smart Choices curriculum, they helped students, parents and faculty learn how to improve their eating habits.

“I am trying to help them live a healthier lifestyle and improve the quality of their lives,” McCarty said.

McCarty visits the school monthly and attends nutrition events at the school for parents. The school incorporates the AgCenter’s Smart Bodies program into its lessons and has had the AgCenter’s Body Walk – a traveling exhibit that demonstrates how healthful choices improve the body – at the school.

McCarty also used pedometers to get the students, parents and faculty to move more. Sensley helped teach the students different exercises.

Barbe Elementary School Assistant Principal Sharon Ruffin-Hardy said it was an honor for the school to be recognized, but they could not have reached this goal without their partnership with the AgCenter.

“It is because we had all these components in place that we received this award,” Ruffin-Hardy said.

The HealthierUS Schools Challenge identifies three goals schools have to meet to receive recognition –provide nutrition education, provide students with physical education and opportunity for physical activity, and improve the quality of the food served.

To accomplish the last goal, Ruffin-Hardy said they removed fried foods and added more whole grains to their menus and now offer a greater variety of fruits and vegetables.

“Initially they had to get used to it,” Ruffin-Hardy said of the student’s reaction to the new lunch menu. “But now they like the variety.”

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service recognized 87 schools across the country for meeting the HealthierUS Schools Challenge for 2013. Barbe is one of about 30 schools that received the top honor of gold award. Other schools received either silver or bronze.

Tobie Blanchard
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