Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam recently announced that the United States Department of Agriculture awarded the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ comprehensive statewide promotion of the HealthierUS School Challenge during the 24th Annual Best Practice Awards in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and Food Distribution Program.
“It’s critical that children have access to the nutrition they need for academic success, and the HUSSC program does a great job ensuring wholesome foods and physical activities are readily available for Florida students,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.
The USDA’s Annual Best Practice Awards recognize exemplary best practices within school nutrition programs. The department’s Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness has piloted several approaches to help schools implement healthier options, including individualized technical assistance and designated regional HUSSC specialists to work hands-on with school districts throughout the certification process.
Since the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services assumed responsibility of the state’s school nutrition programs in 2012, the number of certified HUSSC schools has increased from 27 to 338. The department continually works to certify and recertify schools, as schools must re-apply for their HUSSC status every four years.
The HealthierUS School Challenge, a joint effort with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the USDA, is a voluntary certification initiative that recognizes schools’ efforts to improve food and beverage options, offer nutrition education and promote physical activity. Schools must meet specific criteria, such as providing smarter snacks and opportunities for physical activity.
For more information about the HealthierUS School Challenge Initiative and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.
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