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Missouri School District to Grade its Own Food Options

BRAINTREE, Mass., Feb. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Eating right is about to become much easier for the students in the Independence School District, located in Independence, Missouri. Starting this fall, all the district's high and middle schools will "grade" all foods offered in their cafeterias and vending machines using the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System, which ranks all foods on a scale of 1 to 100. Under the NuVal scale, the higher a food's score, the more nutritious that food is overall. Typically, NuVal scores are provided on supermarket shelves; this marks the first time they will be used in schools.

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"By bringing NuVal to schools in an effort to improve the students' diets and health, we're addressing one of the nation's top public health priorities," said Dr. David Katz, one of the creators of the NuVal system and director of the Yale Prevention Research Center. "NuVal is intended to make everyone a nutrition expert, but without the heavy lifting.  Students in the Independence schools will know at a glance which choices are more nutritious.  We are hoping they will use that knowledge to make the best possible choices, and improve their health. "

Located East of Kansas City, the Independence School District contains four middle schools and four high schools, and more than 7,000 students attend classes there each day. Superintendent Dr. Jim Hinson said his schools are adopting NuVal as a response to the dire statistics of the country's declining health.

"The trends you hear about, they're alarming," he said. "We're noticing it ourselves each year in our own schools -- it's clear that students need support in learning to eat healthier.

"By using the NuVal scores, we're hoping that students will get a better idea about what they're putting into their bodies, and they'll have the nutritional knowledge necessary to help them live a long and healthy life," he said. "We want to do everything we can to improve their understanding of the foods they eat and how it affects them."

"I commend and admire Dr. Hinson for including the health of his students as a priority, along with their academic development.  Ultimately, each supports the other, and hopefully every superintendent will someday understand that," said Dr. Katz.

NuVal Scores are based on a sophisticated algorithm that takes more than 30 different nutrients and nutrition factors into account when developing a Score. The system was created by Dr. Katz and a team of a dozen health and nutrition experts over a two-year period.   The system, which was developed independently of food industry interests, was recently endorsed by the American College of Preventive Medicine.

NuVal Scores will be presented in a trademarked blue double-hexagon design and will be found on display for all foods served at the schools, from School vending machine products to cafeteria a la cart items.

"Sixty percent of our kids stay after school," Hinson said. "It's our responsibility to not only provide healthy snacks, but to give them nutritional guidance about those snacks as well."

Dr. Katz said he hopes this will be the first of many school systems to adopt NuVal.

"With all the concern over lifestyle-related diseases, NuVal offers an easy, accessible, and reliable way to find the most nutritious foods available," he said. "What better place to learn about nutrition than in a school?"

Others who are interested in incorporating NuVal scores into their schools are encouraged to call NuVal at (781) 228-5799.

About NuVal:

The NuVal Nutritional Scoring System is powered by the Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI™), a patent-pending algorithm for measuring the nutritional quality of foods and beverages. Developed by an independent team of top nutrition and public health experts, the NuVal System scores foods and beverages based on more than 30 different nutrients and nutrition factors – everything from fiber and vitamins to fat and sodium. Visitors to the NuVal website ( can find sample scores in a variety of categories. The ONQI algorithm was created independent of financing and influence from food and beverage manufacturers.

NuVal Scores can be found in participating grocery stores, where they are posted on shelf tags next to the product price and on in-store signage.  NuVal is currently used in Price Chopper, Hy-Vee and Meijer Supermarkets, and will soon be seen in United Supermarkets. NuVal is a joint venture formed in 2008 by Topco Associates, LLC, and Griffin Hospital of Derby, Conn., a non-profit community hospital and home to the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center.

Retailers interested in learning more about the NuVal System can contact NuVal LLC at or (781) 228-5800.




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