Tennessee state Health Commissioner Susan Cooper joined the United States Department of Agriculture at Uffelman Elementary in Monterey Tuesday for a special ceremony honoring the school's achievements in nutrition and fitness. The Putnam County school is the only Tennessee school to receive the 2009 gold award for the USDA Healthier U.S. School Challenge. It is also the second award winner in the Putnam County school system in just two years.
"I am extremely proud of the students, teachers, nutrition leaders, staff and parents at Uffelman Elementary and all of the schools across our states that have earned this recognition recently," said Cooper. "Uffelman Elementary and the other schools awarded by the USDA are shining examples to the entire state."
The USDA Healthier U.S. School Challenge was established to recognize schools around the country that are creating healthy school environments by promoting good nutrition and physical activity. Uffelman Elementary received the gold award by meeting specific, rigorous student health requirements, such as daily offerings of iron-rich foods, low-fat or skim milk, fresh fruits and whole grain foods. The school also provides nutrition education and physical activity programs for their students.
"It is an honor to be recognized by the USDA," said Karen Dalton, school food service director for the Putnam County Schools. "We believe in serving school children quality meals. With the support of the administrators, teachers, cafeteria managers and staff, physical education specialists, counselors, parent volunteers and all other team players, this school exemplifies teaching healthy lifestyles."
Cooper spoke to students, parents and invited guests at the special ceremony honoring the school before leading the group in a fitness dance routine with her Get Fit Tennessee team. Get Fit Tennessee is a statewide awareness initiative to help Tennesseans think about making healthier choices.
Get Fit Tennessee was developed by Gov. Phil Bredesen to address the rising epidemic of Type 2 diabetes and risk factors that lead to diabetes, such as obesity. The initiative is aimed at educating both adults and children that Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or even prevented with modest lifestyle changes like increasing physical activity and eating healthier. For more information on Get Fit Tennessee, including free fitness and nutrition tools, visit www.GetFitTN.com.