Post contributed by Katia Zogg, SNDA Public Policy Committee Leader
As I was meal prepping over the weekend to get ready for my final semester at San Francisco State University, I started to think about what I used to eat in grade school and the food and physical activity environment I was provided. I attended public school in the 1990’s and have very fond memories of my grade school years; I remember eating lunches from home and always having plenty of recess breaks. Today, however, it seems the focus on kids’ health in schools has shifted significantly, but I was happy to read recently about Action for Healthy Kids.
Action for Health Kids (AFHK) is an awesome initiative and it gave me hope for the future health of our youth. Created in 2002, AFHK is a national and state integrated initiative and their focus is centered around making changes in the school environment to address childhood obesity, physical inactivity, and undernourishment. Their mission is “To mobilize school professionals, families and communities to take actions that lead to healthy eating, physical activity and healthier schools where kids thrive”. Decreases in funding have limited the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), local sponsors, and state agencies to deliver nutrition education adequately to children. Additionally, funding for nutrition education through child nutrition programs is narrow and limited, even though the number of participants in these programs continues to grow. With AFHK, however, changes in the school environment can be made in order to combat obesity and undernourishment and promote active and healthy behaviors in kids. Through donations, volunteers, partnerships, and fundraising, AFHK has brought grants, programs, and physical activity and nutrition lessons to over 29,000 schools. The number of volunteers has grown from 700 in 2002 to over 120,000 in 2017 - and that number is still growing! They have partnered with over 75 national organizations and associations that focus on serving and caring for the needs of youths. And they are continuing to develop their programs to meet the needs of school nutrition programs, physical activity programs, and developing, implementing and/or evaluating action plans or policies for school wellness.
A short-term goal of AFHK is to increase the amount of health promoting schools. Long-term, AFHK wants to be strongly involved and a leading player in preventing childhood obesity nationwide. AFHK has three main objectives to achieve these goals:
There are many grassroots efforts being made all over the country to promote proper nutrition and physical activity in schools through AFHK teams. Some examples include installing more drinking fountains to increase water intake, creating a school garden with garden education as part of the curriculum, and creating culinary arts electives that focus on cooking, nutrition, gardening, and math. There are many, many more examples that you can read about here. Additionally, AFHK provides tools and resources to schools to help with implementation of health and wellness programs.
If you’re interested in getting involved, you can donate, volunteer, and/or fundraise and you can read more about taking action here. I hope this information will inspire and excite you about how small steps and people coming together to meet a common goal can create significant change.
Boyle, M.A. (2017). Community nutrition in action: an entrepreneurial approach (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning
Action for Healthy Kids (n.d.). Action for Healthy Kids logo [graphic]. http://www.actionforhealthykids.org/index.php
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