Bridgewater, Greenvale Park and Sibley elementary schools have made national news for working to support and improve the health of Northfield children.

The schools each qualified for the silver award in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC), a voluntary certification initiative for schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. The district’s child nutrition staff worked over a period of three years to help the schools implement lunch menu changes for the challenge.

The HUSSC supports first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign by recognizing schools that are creating healthier environments through promotion of nutrition and physical activity.

Sponsored by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the initiative encourages schools to take a leadership role in helping students make life-long healthy eating and physical activity choices. Schools that take the challenge work to make changes that: improve the quality of the food served; provide students with nutrition education; and provide students with physical education and opportunities for physical activity.

Kara Mitterhotzer, team nutrition leader for the Minnesota Department of Education’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), and Deb Lukkonen, supervisor at the Minnesota office, will visit the three Northfield schools on Feb. 22 to present the awards. The HUSSC award celebrations will take place at the following times and locations:

Sibley Elementary – 8 a.m. in the school cafeteria
Greenvale Park Elementary – 9:30 a.m. in the school gym
Bridgewater Elementary – 7 p.m. in the school gym

Child Nutrition Director Pam Haupt led the HUSSC application process for Northfield Public Schools. A team of school professionals, including child nutrition managers, school nurses, physical education teachers, classroom teachers, a curriculum coordinator, and a Team Nutrition consultant from the state, all contributed to the application process.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has invited all schools to take the challenge and earn one of four HUSSC awards — Bronze, Silver, Gold or the Gold Award of Distinction. Winning schools receive a monetary incentive ($500, $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000) as well as a plaque signed by a USDA official, a banner to display in the school and special recognition on the USDA’s Team Nutrition website.