Mollie B. Hoover and Meredith Nicholson Elementary Schools are making national news by working to support and improve the health of our children and our community. As part of their effort, healthy items are featured on their menus and physical education and activity emphasized. Their efforts are part of the HealthierUS School Challenge.

The HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) is a voluntary national certification initiative for schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. It supports First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign by recognizing schools that are creating healthier school environments through their promotion of good nutrition and physical activity. Sponsored by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the initiative encourages all schools to take a leadership role in helping students to make healthier eating and physical activity choices that will last a lifetime. Schools, such as Mollie B. Hoover and Meredith Nicholson Elementary, that champion the HUSSC work hard to make changes to their school nutrition environment in order to (1) improve the quality of the foods served, (2) provide students with nutrition education, and (3) provide students with physical education and opportunities for physical activity.

Ultimately, FNS would like to see all schools receive a HUSSC award at any one of the four levels of superior performance: Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Gold Award of Distinction. Schools awarded receive a monetary incentive (Bronze $500, Silver $1000, Gold $1500, and Gold Award of Distinction $2000), an award plaque signed by a USDA official, a banner to display in their school, and their name listed on the Team Nutrition Web site.

To qualify for an award, a school must submit a formal application and meet basic criteria set forth by the FNS. The HUSSC criteria reflect the recommendations of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published recommendations (April 2007) for foods that should be served in schools, outside of the organized school lunch meals. HealthierUS Schools must also have a local school wellness policy, as mandated by Congress. Schools receiving a HUSSC award commit to meeting the criteria throughout their four year certification period.

Mollie B. Hoover and Meredith Nicholson Elementary Schools qualified for the Gold. An official from the USDA will visit both schools, on a date to be announced, to present the official award.

The HUSSC application process was led by Angie Frost, RD, CD, Nutrition Educator and Betsy Horneffer, FMP, Dining Services Director for Chartwell's and former CCSC food service director. A team of school professionals and a representative of the Health, Nutrition and Fitness Committee reviewed the application and included Dr. Kathleen Steele, Chris Amidon, RN, Kim Nixon, and many others. Special recognition is also due to the school nutrition staff for their efforts in achieving school lunch menu changes leading to a HUSSC Gold award.