Lunchbox heroes: they don’t want candy

As a partnership between the Healthy Schools Campaign, Chicago Public Schools, the Office of Minority Health, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Heroes for Healthy Schools week-long campaign launched in May in Chicago public schools to revolutionize the way schools and children think about health and exercise in the classroom.

The week’s events were held in Chicago to recognize the city’s public schools’ efforts to change the thinking in low-income minority students about nutrition and fitness. The Heroes for Healthy Schools campaign is a part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program and HealthierUS School Challenge. Chicago adopted the USDA’s food program in its schools in 2010, and was the first major public school system to do so. Chicago public schools have a goal to get at least 100 schools to meet the USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge.

Heroes for Healthy Schools week included visits from Chicago chefs; classroom breakfast initiatives; school-wide fitness challenges; conferences and professional development classes for teachers, administrators, and school nurses; local farm support with “buy local” webinars for low-income families; and meetings for parents to learn about the national initiatives to transform health education in public schools.

Thirty public health educators came to Chicago to run events and programs during the campaign, including Cornell McClellan, the Obama family’s personal trainer, and Tonya Lewis Lee, the official spokesperson for the Office of Minority Health. 

The Office of Minority Health also hosted a screening of Lewis Lee’s documentary Crisis in the Crib: Saving Our Nation’s Babies and a citywide forum on private-public school partnerships to target nutrition and fitness education in children from minority and low-income families.

For more information on Heroes for Healthy Schools week and how you can get involved in your school system’s efforts, visit www.healthyschoolscampaign.org.