Posted: Oct 2, 2012 3:42 PM by KBZK MEDIA CENTER
Ennis schools are making the grade when it comes to healthier choices.
The schools this summer, earning a prestigious Gold Award for the Elementary and Junior High School and a Silver Award for the High School in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) program.
The HealthierUS School Challenge program recognizes schools that are creating healthy environments by promoting excellence in nutrition and physical activity. Ennis School is one of 26 schools in Montana to receive a HUSSC award since 2006. State Superintendent Denise Juneau said, "Healthy students are better prepared for success in the classroom. Ennis School is helping students develop healthier eating and physical activity habits that will last a lifetime."
To qualify for these prominent awards, Ennis School submitted a detailed application documenting adherence to the HealthierUS School Challenge criteria for their lunch menus, nutrition education, opportunities for physical activity, and a local school wellness policy. Brian Hilton, K-8 Principal, and Tammy Wham, School Food Service Manager, led the HUSSC application process, along with broad-based support from the school's physical education teacher, Colleen McNally, and the Madison County Farm to Fork Program (Janet Dochnal and Natasha Hegmann). The school will receive $4,000 from USDA to support their school meals program.
Brian Hilton, Elementary Principal, said, "Receiving these awards is very exciting for our students, faculty, food services staff, parents, and community, and a great way to celebrate the many steps we have taken to promote a healthy environment in our school. I believe these awards and the grant money that comes with them will help drive our wellness team to continue to be proactive and keep our healthy school environment going in a positive direction. Our team thanks USDA for the HUSSC Gold and Silver Awards and all who have been involved with this improvement process."
Ennis' school meals are prepared with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy foods, lean protein choices and whole grain foods. Many of the meals are prepared from scratch incorporating fresh produce grown in the school garden and local greenhouses. Numerous choices are available including: a daily soup and salad bar, sub-sandwich bar with freshly baked whole grain bread, and frequent theme bars such as Chinese, Mexican, Italian and potato bars. Tammy Wham, School Food Service Manager, stated, "We like to make lunchtime a healthy, fun and relaxing experience."
Students receive hands-on education on Farm to School projects by working in the school garden and the local greenhouse, taking field trips to local farms, participating in Montana Ag Day, and more. The high priority placed on physical activity and physical education is exceptional at Ennis Schools where students are able to be more active during school hours.