Sacramento, CA –The California Endowment announced today that it has presented “Health Happens Hero” awards to eight California nutrition innovators, honoring their outstanding work to deliver healthy and tasty school meals to California students. Awardees include four school district nutrition directors, two district superintendents, and two state officials.
The award winners are Arvin Union Superintendent Michelle McLean, California Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, Coachella Valley Unified Nutrition Services Director Maria Estrada, Escondido Unified High School District Nutrition Services Director Pamela Lambert, Los Angeles Unified Interim Food Services Director David Binkle, Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Anthony “Tony” Smith, Sacramento City Nutrition Services Manager Brenda Padilla, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
Each year, California schools serve more than 900 million meals to local students—each one an opportunity to teach children the lifelong benefits of healthy eating and provide them with the nutrition they need to focus in class and succeed in school. School meals in California and throughout the nation were overhauled this year to meet updated nutrition guidelines developed by experts at the Institute of Medicine and the United States Department of Agriculture.
Surveys released yesterday by The California Endowment showed that California students and parents overwhelmingly support the new standards. The polls also reported that students and parents believe that school lunches are getting better. Students who say lunches are better this year outnumber those who think they’re getting worse by more than a 3-to-1 ratio.
The new guidelines include:
“During National School Lunch Week, we honor champions who understand that healthy meals lead to healthy kids and improved performance in the classroom. These are true heroes, proving every day that California schools can serve their students delicious, nutritious, and reasonably priced school meals. They are the reason we say, ‘Health Happens in Schools,’” said Dr. Robert K. Ross, president & CEO of The California Endowment.
More information on the “Health Happens Heroes” awardees:
The California Endowment is a private, statewide health foundation, which was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. Headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, The Endowment has regional offices in Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno, and San Diego, with program staff working throughout the state. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people's health. The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention. For more information, visit The Endowment’s homepage at www.calendow.org.
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