The Healthier US School Challenge (HUSSC) is a voluntary initiative developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to recognize schools who are participating in the National School Lunch Program that are for creating a healthier school environment by promoting good nutrition and physical activity. The challenge is a key component of the First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative to raise a healthier generation of kids.
The HUSSC emphasizes developing lifetime health habits. If children are taught at a young age to make healthy food choices and be physically active, these habits are likely to stay with them into adulthood. Schools that receive the HUSSC award demonstrate to the community a commitment to school health.
Schools must submit an application along with supporting documents to be considered for a HUSSC award. There are four levels of achievement that are awarded: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Gold of Distinction. Common criteria between the different award levels that schools must meet:
- Be a Team Nutrition School
- Participate in National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP)
- Offer reimbursable breakfasts and lunches that reflect Dietary Guidelines and meet USDA nutrition standards
- Complete all corrective actions
- Be certified by SFA for additional 6-Cents reimbursement
- Provide more nutritious competitive foods, if offered
- Submit local school wellness policy and describe ways school is meeting wellness goals
- Provide nutrition education, physical education, and opportunities for physical activity
To date, HUSSC awards have been given to schools in 49 states and the District of Columbia. As of June 17, 2013, there are 6,526 schools certified. Schools recognized as a HUSSC awardees receive a display banner, a certificate, national recognition on the Team Nutrition website, a Congratulatory letter signed by the First Lady and monetary incentive. The recognition and award money received can improve food service staff morale, increase school and community involvement and support, increase kids awareness and excitement for establishing healthy habits and provide extra resources to continue to create a healthy school environment.
For more information on the Healthier US School Challenge and to access the application please visit USDA’s website.