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As Kids Head Back to School, National Advocacy Group Issues Report on Progress of School Wellness
Date:8/8/2008

SYRACUSE, N.Y., Aug. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- "The passage of federal legislation two years ago mandating schools to adopt wellness policies -- a response by Congress to the alarming surge in childhood obesity -- will be looked back upon as the launching pad for the school wellness movement," says a 60-page report issued this week by the Action For Healthy Kids Coalition (AFHK). "That legislation has gotten the ball rolling by identifying schools as playing a key role in the development of children's eating and exercising habits," says Andrea Thompson, Vice President of School Marketing for the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council, Inc., serving schools in New York, Northern and Central NJ and Northeast PA.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080808/NYF062 )

While the report commends schools for eliminating soft drink and junk food vending machines, it says the focus for improving nutrition can't only be on foods and beverages to avoid. Improving the quality of the nutrient-rich foods that make up the USDA-guided school cafeteria menu presents an opportunity for increasing overall nutritional wellness. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the USDA say the nutritional content of school meals has improved since the mid-1990s, but the key -- according to the report -- is making healthy offerings more youth-appealing.

The dairy industry recognized this gap and has introduced innovated programs such as the "New Look of School Milk" to schools throughout the country. A collaborative effort between farmers and milk processors, the program has overhauled the appearance of school milk and has been successful in increasing milk consumption. "The goal of the program was to update milk's image to make it more appealing to kids, so that they'd drink more and get the essential nutrients they need," explains Thompson.

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SOURCE American Dairy Association and Dairy Council, Inc.
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