Originally created 08/29/06

Recipe for health



No more praising with candy, and no more punishing by taking away recess.

Richmond County school nutrition employees, along with other school systems, are implementing a comprehensive approach toward tackling health problems in children.

"We're trying to make sure that every child that walks into this school eats at least two healthy meals," said education nutrition specialist Kelly Schlein.

Candy and other such things with "empty" calories are prohibited in the new health and wellness policy, she said. That ban extends to teachers handing out treats and parents sending cupcakes for children to celebrate birthdays with classmates.

Although not as stringent, Columbia County "encourages" healthful choices, said Sandra Carraway, the assistant superintendent of student support. The policy shifts the focus away from "nonhealthy types of food" and educating children about the values of eating and living healthy, Dr. Carraway said.

Taking it a step further, the Richmond County policy prevents teachers from rewarding pupils with candy or punishing them by taking away recess and physical education.

The changes come as schools continually try to dump calories and fat-laden food items for more nutritious choices.

Schools now serve a low-fat sausage dog with only 8 grams of fat and low-calorie pizza made with whole grains and turkey pepperoni. School systems are adopting wellness policies to be in compliance with a new federal law.

Goshen Elementary School Principal Lisa Schoer remembers a time when biscuits were cooked with lard.

Last week, though, a parent brought in muffins, a more healthful alternative to cupcakes, to meet the standards of the wellness policy.

Columbia County is trimming the fat this year by no longer frying any of its food, said Dr. Jane Wiggins, the director of school nutrition services.

An Aiken County policy is directing pupils to healthful choices by prohibiting "competitive" food sales during the day, said Jo Ann Griffin, the school food services director.

The school system also is implementing a number of new state laws to make pupils healthier.

Mrs. Griffin said those include offering entree choices to elementary schoolchildren, more whole grains and more fruit.

New laws also mandate that pupils get at least 20 minutes of time to sit and each lunch, she said.

Previously, some were given 20 minutes to get their food, eat and clean up.

The other component to healthier children, Mrs. Schlein said, is physical activity. School officials also are pushing physical education and recess.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

HEALTH CLASS


The Richmond County school system has implemented a health and wellness policy this year. The policy includes the following provisions:


- Physical activity or recess is not used as reward or punishment.


- The school environment provides safe and enjoyable physical activities for all pupils.


- The school staff shall not use candy and other foods with minimal nutritional value as a reward for student accomplishment.


- The school staff shall not withhold food as a form of punishment.


- Any food offered outside the school food service program must meet nutritional guidelines.

Source: Richmond County Board of Education