Three elementary schools in the Crawfordsville Community School Corporation have received awards for giving their students better nutrition and improved physical activity time. Nicholson, Hoover and Hose received USDA Food and Nutrition Service Healthier US School Challenge awards. Nicholson and Hoover were awarded a gold rating and Hose received silver.

"They were the first ones to get gold," said CCSC Dietitian Wellness Coordinator Angie Frost. "There are some schools that have been awarded gold with distinction after. That just gives us the incentive to make the little tiny changes we need to reach the next level."

Consideration for the honor includes both nutrition and physical activity. According to Frost, this takes into account not only the number of physical education minutes, but before and after school programs and nutritional education as well.

The Crawfordsville schools were ahead of the game when a new law was passed a year ago, in part to participation in the award program.

"What's been beneficial to us is that we had been striving to make changes. They became law at the beginning of the last school year," explained Frost. "Now all schools that are part of the national school lunch program have to have certain amounts of foods. Some of those things have been a huge challenge for schools that weren't doing them before, but we didn't even blink."

She also explained that the award program has a focused approach to making healthier individuals. It encourages schools to include more fruits and vegetables into their programs, including red, orange and green vegetables.

"Studies have evaluated the diet of the American public and found that the fruits and vegetables most lacking are red, orange and green. They also contain the most nutrients," said Frost. "If they would eat those foods, they wouldn't have some of the deficiencies in nutrients that they have."

The program also tries to incorporate dry beans, whole grains and reduced sodium into the kids' diets.

"We are thrilled to death with gold," exclaimed Frost. "We are working to continue to find the balance between what kids will eat and giving them new and different things. We encourage them to try them and hopefully families can adopt some of those thought processes at home. We are hoping for a trickle-down effect."

Frost said that the schools will continue to work hard to improve nutrition throughout the corporation. Her hard work did not go unnoticed.

"(Frost) has worked very hard to get the grants to help implement the programs and to earn these awards," said CCSC Superintendent Dr. Kathy Steele.