Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates


Food Experts Urge Parents, Schools to Get Tough About Nutrition: Experts in food politics are taking parents and schools to task for not being more aggressive about providing healthy foods for children, saying students do not necessarily need to have a say in what goes on the menu and that the school lunch line should not mimic a fast-food restaurant. "Renegade lunch lady" and author Ann Cooper, speaking at the Natural Products Expo, criticized the organic industry for making candy, corn dogs, and other unhealthy snacks.

Va. Governor Votes Down Physical Activity Bill: Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell rejected a bill that mandates at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week among elementary- and middle-school students in the state. McDonnell called the measure an "unfunded mandate" to schools and vowed to find other "creative and innovative" ways to combat childhood obesity.

Numerous Parents in Chicago Oppose Classroom Breakfast Programs: Hundreds of parents of students who attend Chicago Public Schools are upset about a district mandate that all schools provide breakfast in classrooms each morning. The requirement was meant to address issues of student hunger, but some parents say it leads to lost instructional time and poses serious risks for students with food allergies.

American Academy of Pediatrics Issues Social Media Guidelines: Pediatricians should be aware of online risks to youth, such as Facebook depression, cyberbullying, and sexting, and should advocate parent-child discussions of Facebook use, according to the social media guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The guidelines, published in Pediatrics, said Facebook friend lists and status updates may negatively affect children, especially those with low self-esteem, or make them upset if they think they are socially disconnected.


New Outreach Materials Available in Spanish from USDA: The Summer Food Service Program Outreach Toolkit, now available in Spanish, has outreach tips for communicating with families and children, media, schools, and other community organizations. It also has a series of templates for letters, press releases, calendars, posters, and much more. These templates can be customized with your organization's contact information and feeding site details.

Safe and Supportive Schools Website: The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS) announces the launch of its new website at Through the site, OSDFS will provide technical assistance and expertise to help keep students safe. State, district, and school administrators; teachers; school support staff; and communities and families will be able to:

Community Schools as Collaboratives to Promote Well-Being: Understanding Community Schools as Collaboratives for System Building to Address Barriers and Promote Well-Being, a recent brief from the School Mental Health Project/Center for Mental Health in Schools, UCLA Dept. of Psychology, reviews different agenda for establishing school-community connections in general and community schools specifically and underscores policy implications for facilitating the types of systemic changes involved.

Take Action

Teleconference: How Healthy Is Your County?: Join the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin for a teleconference on March 30, 2011, 10:00–11:00 a.m., ET, as they release the 2011 County Health Rankings, ranking nearly every county in every state on their overall health. The rankings provides a standard way for counties to see where they are doing well and where they are not so they can make changes to improve health. The teleconference will be followed by a live Twitter Q&A at 2:00 p.m., ET. Submit your questions via Twitter to @RWJF_PubHealth or @CHRankings, and join the conversation at #healthrankings.

Jordan Fundamentals Innovation and Inspiration Grants: Grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 will be awarded to teachers who have come up with innovative approaches to improving student academic achievement, as well as social and emotional learning and behavioral skills, through student engagement and teacher capacity-building, for example. Deadline: March 30, 2011.

2011 OSDFS National Conference: The theme of this year's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS) conference is "Making the Connection: Creating and Maintaining Conditions for Learning," which will address issues related to: alcohol, drug, and violence prevention; health, mental health, and physical education; special populations; emerging issues; and other areas concerning drug and violence prevention. The conference will be held August 8–10, 2011, at the Gaylord National Resort, just outside Washington, D.C. It will be a large-scale training and technical assistance event that will include: OSDFS grantees; education and prevention leaders; representatives of federal agencies and national associations; public and private school administrators; school personnel; researchers and experts; and others in the field. Save the date and register now!

Healthy School Communities is a worldwide ASCD effort to promote the integration of health and learning and the benefits of school-community collaboration. It is part of a large, multiyear plan to shift public dialogue about education from a narrow, curriculum-centric and accountability system focus to a whole child approach that encompasses all factors required for successful student outcomes. Visit the Healthy School Communities group on ASCD EDge and share everything from ideas and solutions to common concerns.

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