Healthy eating and physical activity solutions for kids

Community and Parent Connections

Health fair, parent involvement and other ideas to link healthy happenings in the youth program.

  • Let's Move! with Chefs

What do you get when you mix together a dedicated school food and nutrition service director, a supportive school district administration, motivated food service managers, creative culinary professional chefs, national, state, and local community partners; THEN, stir in Healthy Kids Challenge®, a nonprofit offering simple solutions for getting kids and families eating healthy and moving more? A recipe for SUCCESS!

Orange County Public Schools, (OCPS), Orlando, Florida and Healthy Kids Challenge     have been Partners in Health for several years now. From energizing school wellness teams to offering creative ways to get kids excited about school meals to showcasing how to integrate nutrition education into science and math curriculum, many success stories exist together.

The most recent and the most honoring for all involved is the Healthy Kids Challenge involvement with OCPS in their Chefs Move to Schools program and event which features their achievements so far this school year. Healthy Kids Challenge served as a partner for the initiative planning committee and our director, Vickie L. James, RD, LD was honored to serve as the MC for the Chefs Move to Schools event that was recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama and her Let’s Move! initiative with the presence of White House Assistant Chef and Food Initiative Coordinator Chef Sam Kass and Dr. Janey Thornton, Deputy Under Secretary, Food, Nutrition & Consumer Services of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) both in attendance. Since that time, the OCPS efforts have received many accolades including the following words:

 Chef Kass and Orange County Public School kids cooking“I saw the vision of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to reduce childhood obesity at work today through the Chefs Move to Schools program in Orange County Public Schools. The creative partnership of the chefs, the food managers and the inclusion of the students is a model that should be duplicated nationwide,” said Chef Sam Kass, White House Assistant Chef and Food Initiative Coordinator.

“This was a phenomenal event! To see the passion and dedication of all involved to positively impact child nutrition was inspiring. I look forward to expanding this program across the country,” said Dr. Janey Thornton, Deputy Under Secretary, Food, Nutrition & Consumer Services of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“This is an amazing effort that is just gaining momentum at OCPS. I’ve seen this success coming with all the wonderful time, energy, and effort invested by Food and Nutrition Service Director Lora Gilbert and her fabulous team and partners. HKC is excited to be a partner and grow the vision to create a model for schools to offer the best school meal and nutrition education program possible for kids,” said Vickie L. James, RD, LD, Healthy Kids Challenge Director.

Hats off to Orange County Public Schools from Healthy Kids Challenge! Just one example of how creative partnerships can mastermind simple solutions to health.


Before Valentine's Day classroom parties (called Sharing Day), parents were sent a listboy looking at butterfly through magnifier of ideas for healthy snacks to replace some of the less healthy snacks traditionally shared on this day.

  • Nine of 13 teachers interviewed reported at least a 50% increase in the amount of healthy food sent in response to healthy Sharing Day suggestions.
  • Four of the nine reported a 70% improvement.
Teachers expressed excitement about some of the healthy things that kids and parents brought in; including a wide variety of fresh fruits, fruit cups, homemade fruit juice pops, pretzels, tortilla chips and salsa, and fruit juices.
Williamsburg Community Health Foundation Grant, Charles City Elementary, Charles City, VA, Kristin Massey, Physical Education Teacher

At Maude Trevvett Elementary, a month long celebration centers around lessons and activities for students and families. The lessons teach the importance of good nutrition and exercise in a variety of ways. Activities include:

  • A "Five A Day Club" to record daily intake of 5 fruits & veggies and 30 minutes of activity outside school during the day. Club members choose "Healthy Teachers of the Week" to receive a fruit basket.
  • A PTA combo "Jump Rope for Heart" and "Wealth of Health" evening, at which health professionals present information to encourage healthy lifestyles. (The event drew about 100 families.) 

Cigna Showcase School, Maude Trevvett Elementary, Richmond, VA, Judy Hall, Physical Educator

Approximately 200 Pre-K through 6th grade kids and parents participated in Sublettegirl at lap top computer Elementary's first-time Family Night Out. A team of volunteers including the head cook, teachers, parents and community leaders developed a fun and inviting, circus theme event to raise awareness and gain support for healthy eating and physical activity.

Participants received a ticket and won a prize once they completed all 10 activities. Under one "tent" an OrganWise Guys DVD and Little Organ Annie taught kids about healthy bodies. Other interactive events included: plate skating, mini-golf, build a trail mix, buddy walk, and proper handwashing technique. Family activitiy ideas and healthy eaitng tips were given to each family as they left.

The next day, students were already asking if the event would be held in the future!

Kansas Kids C.A.N. School, Sublette Elementary, Sublette, KS, Jackie Pierce, Head Cook

Community collaborations have led to a Running for Life program whereby kids track miles to different destinations, a partnership with the Richmond Ballet for dance and movement instruction, and development of "non-candy" community fundraisers.

Cigna Showcase School, Mary Munford Elementary, Richmond, VA, Greg Muzik, Principal