Schools to lop junk off menu
Schools turn focus to nutrition, fitness
STORY SUMMARY »
Students and parents will see a big change in Hawaii's public schools as "wellness guidelines" are put into action over the next four years.
The state Education and Health departments collaborated on the guidelines to require healthier food choices and more physical activity on the school campuses.
Even school fundraisers must change. The school system's new policy prohibits candy, cookies and any other product with sugar as a major ingredient.
Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, Schools Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto and state Health Director Chiyome Fukino called on the community and businesses to support the wellness program.
"Nobody would have thought 30 years ago we would have a ban on smoking," Aiona said, saying a similar shift is beginning in the community toward healthier menus.
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Exercising and eating right have joined reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic as standards of education in Hawaii's public schools.
CAMPUS NUTRITION GUIDELINES
New standards for all food and beverages sold or served on campus except fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds:
» No more than 8 grams of total fat per serving.
» No more than 2 grams of saturated fat per serving.
» Zero grams of trans fat per serving.
» No more than 200 calories per serving.
» No more than 200 milligrams of sodium per serving.
» No more than 8 grams of sugar per serving.
» More than 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving
» No beverages larger than 12 ounces except water and milk containing 1 percent fat or less. Products with 2 percent milk fat or more cannot exceed 8 ounces.
» Limit sugar.
Source: State of Hawaii
Under new guidelines begun this year, students will have at least 20 minutes of recess per day and will be encouraged to move their muscles.
"There will be a lot more running and a lot more ball-playing," Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto said yesterday.
The guidelines also emphasize good nutrition, including healthy meals at school and strict standards for snacks and drinks sold or served on campus or through fundraisers.
The guidelines, developed by the state Departments of Health and Education, have been adopted as the school system's official policy, said Hamamoto, joined at a news conference by Health Director Chiyome Fukino and Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, who has appeared in public service announcements promoting healthy lifestyles.
"It's a huge policy shift by the DOE," said Aiona.
Schools will implement the guidelines as part of a four-year plan that began in January. All aspects must be put into practice by June 2011.
Hamamoto said the Department of Education is looking at the issue of increased physical education but that "it is a lot more complex than adding a credit."
Other guidelines call for a good breakfast to start the day through the School Breakfast Program and offering professional development in nutrition for certain staff members.
Vending machines can offer only water, milk with 1 percent or less fat and juice in amounts up to 12 ounces. Schools that have vending machines with other items will not have to change until the contracts end.
Any product listing sugar as its primary ingredient is prohibited, so sugar-laden candy and cookies are out for snacks and school fundraisers.
"It's not abolishing everything we're snacking or munching on," Aiona said, noting a display of reformulated snacks meeting the guidelines.
The Education and Health departments are working with companies to revise products to meet nutrition criteria and to increase health options for fundraisers, school concessions and school stores. They are also looking for nonfood items for fundraisers.
The state agencies worked with parents, teachers, students and other partners to develop the wellness policy in anticipation of a federal law requiring school authorities to fight obesity with healthier foods in the National Lunch Program.
The goal is to motivate students so they develop lifelong healthy habits, but parents must still play a role, said Aiona. "It sets the foundation, a solid foundation for them, but an overall foundation comes from the home."
It has been said that "this generation will not outlive their parents," Fukino said, also emphasizing the importance of parents and other adults getting behind the schools' policy.
In a 2005 survey of Hawaii high school students, Fukino said, 70 percent admitted they did not engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day, and 77 percent said they did not eat the recommended five or more daily servings of fruit and vegetables.
"It's an uphill battle," she conceded, pointing out that hundreds of millions of dollars are spent every day urging people to purchase unhealthy products. But Fukino expressed confidence that children ultimately will make healthy decisions.
Hamamoto said the wellness guidelines are among the most comprehensive in the nation but that the key is implementation.
"Our job is not to have it sit on the shelf, but be a daily, living thing," she said.