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Going for the Gold in the HealthierUS School Challenge

Most Olympians will tell you that going for the “gold” is never an easy road. They will also tell you that it is an achievement that requires dedication and hard work, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Those rewards are even greater when the outcome improves the health and well-being of children. USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge, an integral part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, is one path schools are embracing to improve child nutrition within the National School Lunch Program. As of March 16, 2011, USDA has certified 616 schools and is well on the way towards our June 2011 goal of 1250 schools nationwide. Byram Middle School in Terry, Miss. is one of many shining examples of this push to nourish a nation’s next generation. Jenod Deuce McAllister poses with Byram Middle School cheerleaders after their school received the HUSSC Gold Award (photo by Debbie Smoot). “We decided to go for the Gold,” said Becky Courville, director of Child Nutrition for the Hinds County School District. “We knew students would benefit most from meeting the requirement necessary for the Gold Award. We want them to be physically fit and nutritionally sound as they face the challenges of their teenage years.” Special Nutrition Programs Deputy Administrator Audrey Rowe and retired New Orleans Saints and Ole Miss running back Jenod “Deuce” McAllister teamed with other stakeholders during National School Lunch Week in 2010 to recognize the School for meeting USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge. Byram Middle School was presented the USDA HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award by Audrey Rowe (far right) and Jenod Deuce McAllister (second from right) (photo by Debbie Smoot). “It’s important what we’re doing here today. I think the biggest thing is to keep people healthy now. If we do that, we may not have these diseases we’re seeing popping up, like heart disease and diabetes,” McAllister said during the award ceremony. Today many students are benefiting throughout Mississippi and across the country because schools like Byram Middle decided to step up their nutritional commitments. Whether it’s Bronze, Silver, Gold or Gold of Distinction, we encourage all schools to rise to the task.