Pawlenty wants kids to shape up
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants schools to encourage students to get fit and eat healthy foods.
The governor launched a fitness initiative Monday that will recognize schools for increasing health awareness and encouraging students to be more physically active.
"The incidence of childhood obesity is rising dramatically," Pawlenty said in a news release.
Schools awarded the "Governor's Fit School" distinction will receive a certificate and will be featured on the state Department of Health Web site.
Many local school districts are already working on wellness policies because of a federal mandate. All districts that receive federal funding from the school lunch program are required by the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 to have a wellness policy in place by the start of the 2006-2007 school year.
The policy must include nutrition guidelines, goals for nutrition education and physical activities to promote student wellness. The act requires parents, students, representatives of the school food authority, the school board, school administrators and the public to be involved in developing the policy. It also requires a plan for implementation and compliance.
The governor's initiative fits with what the Moorhead School District has done or is working on, said Lynne Kovash, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning. She said she will likely encourage all schools in the district to apply for the "Governor's Fit School" distinction because they already meet the criteria.
"We've done a lot of work in the area of health and fitness in our district," Kovash said.
The district is in the last stages of developing a wellness policy.
Hawley School District Superintendent Phil Jensen said his district would also likely meet the "Governor's Fit School" criteria.
School districts in Hawley, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton and Barnesville are working to develop wellness policies.
The Ada-Borup School District is also in the process of developing a wellness policy. Cooks are reviewing school meals to make sure they meet USDA standards, Superintendent Ollen Church said.
To qualify for "Governor's Fit School" distinction, schools must:
- Develop a wellness policy
- Provide physical and nutrition education and health standards
- Serve meals that meet USDA standards
- Provide opportunitiesfor students to be physically active during the day
Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526