For Immediate Release
September 21, 2009

Illinois receives nearly $350,000 to improve health of school children

Federal grant helps combat childhood obesity and promote physical activity

The Illinois State Board of Education has been selected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to receive a nearly $350,000 nutrition grant to combat childhood obesity and promote an active lifestyle. Funds from the Team Nutrition Training grant will be used to help children develop good nutrition and physical activity habits for healthier lifestyles.

“This funding will boost efforts to improve the eating and exercise habits of Illinois’ schoolchildren and fight childhood obesity,’’ said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “Good nutrition and physical activity go hand in hand with learning and will benefit students well beyond their school years.’’

The Illinois State Board of Education will administer funds during a two-year Grant period through the Illinois Team Nutrition Training (TNT) Project with plans to focus on three initiatives:

  1. Provide training and resources to school food service staff to help them increase the amount and variety of whole grain products offered to students in the school breakfast programs. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americas (DGAs) recommend that half of the grains consumed be whole grains but studies show that children consume only one third of the recommended level.

  2. Provide the opportunity for 20 Illinois elementary schools to apply for a mini-grant of $3,500 for training and technical assistance in the HealthierUS School Challenge, a national recognition program for schools that excel at supporting student wellness. The initiative aims to help reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. Overweight children are at greater risk for developing heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.

  3. Improve after-school wellness activities, nutrition and snacks through 10 mini-grants of $2,000 to eligible after-school programs.  Funds will also go toward developing training to successfully integrate nutrition education and physical activity into after-school programs. Across the country, 20 percent of K-8 students are enrolled in after-school programs.

The $348,404 Team Nutrition Training Grant is a key component in the efforts of the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) to enhance children’s lifelong eating and physical activity behaviors by incorporating the principles of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid. Illinois is one of 18 states to receive the grant that expires Sept.30, 2011.