A pilot program designed to increase fruit and vegetable intake among elementary school students is being put to the test by Saint Paul Public Schools and HealthPartners. Approximately 7,500 students in 21 schools are participating in the program including nine Saint Paul Public Schools.
“Research shows that habits established in elementary school often last a lifetime, so this is a great opportunity to help reverse the obesity epidemic in our community and our nation,” says Valeria Silva, Saint Paul Public School Superintendent.
Mary Brainerd, HealthPartners President and CEO added, “Kids consume about half of their daily calories during the school day, so school nutrition is a critical component in addressing the obesity epidemic.”
During the four-week challenge, which is designed to improve nutrition through HealthPartners yumPower initiative, students will use fruit and vegetable trackers to record their consumption each day. Schools receive tracking supplies, pencils and notepads to remind and to provide incentive for students to keep track of their food intake. Schools with high levels of participation win grants of $300 to $500 to use for the school’s nutrition services.
HealthPartners will evaluate results of the program to see how effective it is in increasing the number of students who consume three to five servings of fruits and vegetables on most days.
The multi-year initiative, launched last August, also includes an iPhone mobile app to help consumers find restaurants with better-for-you menu options; billboards and commercials with local celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern; recipe contests and the yumpower.com website with recipes, cooking videos and more.