Healthy Kids – Successful Students – Stronger Communities

UntitledThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  recently released a toolkit on the connection between health and academic achievement and what stakeholders can do to emphasize this positive connection.  Health and Academic Achievement is a toolkit that can be a very valuable resource for both schools and teachers as it details the crucial link between a student’s health and its impact on their academic achievement. The toolkit was created by public health  and education professionals to emphasize the link between healthy eating, physical activity, and improved academic achievement  and what stakeholders can do to create healthy school environments.

The toolkit focuses on four areas:

  1. Provides evidence linking healthy eating and physical activity with academic achievement
  2. Provides evidence driven messages that are specific to certain stakeholders
  3. Provides specific and feasible action steps that can be used to support healthy eating and physical activity in schools
  4. Highlights additional resource that can be utilized to further support your action steps.

Evidence of the link between health eating and physical activity and students academic achievement include:

  • Student participation in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) School Breakfast Program (SBP) is associated with increased academic grades and standardized test scores, reduced absenteeism, and improved cognitive performance (e.g., memory)
  • Lack of adequate consumption of specific foods, such as fruits, vegetables, or dairy products, is associated with lower grades among students.
  • Hunger due to insufficient food intake is associated with lower grades, higher rates of absenteeism, repeating a grade, and an inability to focus among students
  • More participation in physical education class has been associated with better grades, standardized test scores, and classroom behavior (e.g., on-task behavior) among students.
  • Time spent in recess has been shown to positively affect students’ cognitive performance (e.g. attention, concentration) and classroom behaviors (e.g., not misbehaving).

The biggest takeaway from the toolkit that will the most useful for SBHC’s include the toolkits core messages and how  best to communicate them to those stakeholders you are trying to influence:

Cores Messages:

  1.  Healthy students are better learners:  Healthy students are better on all levels of academic achievement: academic performance, education behavior, and cognitive skills and attitudes
  2. Schools can influence eating and physical activity behaviors:  Students spend much of their time at school, and may eat as many as 2 out of 3 meals per day and may get much of their physical activity at school
  3. Healthy, successful students help build strong communities: Investing in the health of students contributes to healthy communities in the future.
  4.  All students deserve the opportunity to be healthy and successful:  Providing access to healthy foods and physical activity plays an important role in the academic achievement of students.

The toolkit emphasizes using different messages when communicating to different audiences at both the states and local levels and to incorporate at least 1-2 messages in all communication to support both healthy eating and physical activity strategies in schools, this includes communication in all forms such as conversation, PowerPoints, Webinars, meetings, presentations, Web content, e-mails, newsletters, print documents.

Click here to explore the rest of  toolkit

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MSDE Culinary Boot Camp

On Tuesday July 15th MASBHC observed a session of the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) sponsored Cook Smart Culinary Boot Camp 2014 at Oxon Hill High School. MSDE partners with the Restaurant Association of Maryland Education Foundation (RAMEF) and four Maryland school systems to provide a one week refresher course for school nutrition professionals all over Maryland. The Culinary Boot Camps objective is to  reinforce kitchen skills as well as spark creativity among attendees to create flavorful, nutritious school menu items.

The purpose of the Cook Smart Boot Camp is for a team of school nutrition professionals from all over Maryland to work with local chefs to develop new and healthy menu items, enhance skills in knife cutting techniques, food presentation and food product management. With these skills, school nutrition professionals will be able to prepare more menu items from scratch that meet USDA nutritional guidelines. The week-long culinary boot camp starts with chef demos, followed by skills practice by the participants. Topics covered during the course include knife techniques, seasoning and flavoring, vegetable preparation, product planning, and production labs. All the demos and lectures are led by local chefs. The boot camp serves as a great refresher on proper skills and techniques. Many of attendees at the Oxon Hill Culinary Boot Camp have been working as school nutrition professionals for many years and were still able to take away new skills and techniques from just the second day of the boot camp.

MSDE will hold five Cook Smart culinary boot camps this summer; one in each of the following counties: Queen Anne’s County, Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County, Worcester County, and Charles County.

MSDE’s Cook Smart Culinary Boot Camps are made possible by the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA). For more information on MSDE’s Boot Camps visit their website. For more information on HHFKA, visit USDA’s HHFKA website.

 

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Culinary Boot Camp Attendees practicing knife skills

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Chefs calling on attendees to help with the demonstration

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St. Frances Academy’s Teacher Appreciation Week

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St. Frances staff participating in the yoga class as part of the Teacher Appreciation Dinner

To commemorate Teacher Appreciation Week, St. Frances Academy held a Teacher Appreciation Dinner for staff and faculty.  St. Frances Academy is one of two Maryland sites participating in the Hallways to Health program, which is a program sponsored by MASBHC, School-Based Health Alliance, and Kaiser Permanente’s Thriving Schools Initiative. St. Frances Academy’s Teachers Appreciation Dinner was held as part of the Hallways to Health grant’s employee wellness component.

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