Registered Dietitian Coaches in Energy Balance 4 Kids Program Lead Two Kansas City Schools to National Recognition
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CHICAGO – The American Dietetic Association Foundation congratulates Gladstone Elementary School and John T. Hartman Elementary School for their recent recognition by the United States Department of Agriculture's HealthierUS School Challenge.
The two Kansas City schools were acknowledged at the Bronze level for their work through the ADA Foundation’s Energy Balance 4 Kids program to improve the schools' wellness environment by addressing policies regarding school fundraisers, school rewards and incentives, physical activity, nutrition education and the school lunch program. As part of the recognition, a $500 award was presented to the each school's food service department.
Energy Balance 4 Kids, formerly known as the Healthy Schools Partnership, is a program developed by the American Dietetic Association Foundation with funding support from the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation. EB4K is an evidence-based program that promotes nutrition and energy balance knowledge and behavior changes in children, led by registered dietitians working as "nutrition coaches."
"The RD Coaches interact with students in the classroom, during physical education classes and in the cafeteria, teaching them the importance of healthy eating and physical activity, and how they can apply each lesson into their daily lives," says registered dietitian and ADA Foundation Senior Director, Nutrition Education, Dr. Katie Brown.
"We are extremely proud of all of the faculty and staff at Gladstone and Hartman, especially the RD coaches and Energy Balance teams, for their hard work and dedication to improving the health and wellness of their students. Furthermore, these two schools are the only schools in the Kansas City, Missouri school district to receive this honor," Brown says. "Through EB4K, we have been able to teach these children healthy eating and physical activity lessons that will help improve their health for a lifetime."
During the 2010-2011 school year, the EB4K program was enhanced to include formation of school Energy Balance teams that represent a school health council. "It is the work of the Energy Balance teams, led by the RD nutrition coach, that was instrumental in facilitating needed improvements to these schools' wellness environments and, ultimately resulted in implementation of comprehensive wellness policies," Brown says.
"We have seen that students who received the RD coach intervention had significantly improved nutrition knowledge, reported better eating behaviors, and consumed more vegetables at school lunch compared to students who did not receive the intervention," Brown says. "Continuing with this momentum, we are excited about our new two-year intervention and program evaluation, Energy Balance 4 Kids with Play, in the West Contra Costa School District in California." This intervention pairs the RD Coaches with recess coaches from nationally-recognized physical activity partner, Playworks.
The HealthierUS School Challenge is a voluntary initiative established in 2004 to recognize those schools participating in the National School Lunch Program that have created healthier school environments through promotion of nutrition and physical activity. In February 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama introduced Let's Move!, incorporating the HealthierUS School Challenge into her campaign to raise a healthier generation of kids. At that time, monetary awards became available for each HUSSC award level: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Gold Award of Distinction.