The have earned federal recognition—and a bit of cash—for having a top nutrition program.
Six schools earning the United States Department of Agriculture’s HealthierUS School Challenge Silver Award are all located in New London. The Connecticut State Department of Education announced that the USDA certified all of the elementary schools in New London Public Schools—, , and —as well as the to receive the award. The also received the award, while 34 schools in the state were certified for the Bronze Award.
Dr. Nicholas Fischer, superintendent of New London Public Schools, said at Thursday’s Board of Education that food services manager Gail Sharry as well as the food service workers in the schools have done an excellent job. He said they have all been patient and hardworking, and noted how 122 students had signed up for a supper program initiated at the New London High School.
“This past summer, we were feeding students not only in New London—public, private, and parochial schools—but in Groton as well,” he said.
John Magmarelli, regional director of the USDA, said each school earning a Silver Award receives $1,000, and that New London Public Schools would receive $5,000 as a result. He said the goal of the program is to encourage healthier schools and recognize schools that have provided nutrition education, physical education and opportunities for physical activity, and offer appealing and nutritious meals.
“We make it a very rigorous process…About one and a half percent of the schools in the country have gotten these awards,” he said.
According to the Connecticut State Department of Education, schools must meet a number of guidelines to qualify for the Bronze Award. These include being enrolled as a Team Nutrition School, meeting the guidelines of the Food and Nutrition Service and USDA, offering reimbursable lunches, and implementing a local wellness policy. Silver Award schools must meet these requirements and maintain an average daily participation of reimbursable lunches of at least 60 percent of school enrollment for elementary school and 45 percent for middle school.
The HealthierUS School Challenge is a voluntary national certification initiative offered to schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. The department says 1,504 schools across the nation have been certified through the challenge, which recognizes schools working to provide a healthy environment.