|Hillside Middle School cafeteria staff: Head cook Dianna Gosselin, Lisa Voisine, manager Diane Cormier, Judi Jordan, Ruthanne MacDonald, Joanne Allard, Helen Gamelin and Catherine Dupuis|
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that Hillside Middle School has earned a bronze HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms award. Hillside joins the ranks of an elite group of schools across the country recognized for excellence in their integration of health, nutrition and fitness education. Only about 7% of the nation’s schools have achieved bronze, silver, gold, or gold of distinction HealthierUS status. About 30 schools in New Hampshire have been recognized; three of them in Manchester.
The HealthierUS challenge is a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation. Schools participating in the challenge voluntarily adopt USDA standards for food they serve at their schools, agree to provide nutrition education, and provide opportunities for physical activity.
Hillside Middle School demonstrates the award criteria in all areas that promote healthy lifestyle habits. The physical education curriculum emphasizes lifelong fitness and why physical activity is important. The middle school life skills class includes nutrition education and food science in every unit. Students learn to make healthy eating choices at school and at home. Hillside's cafeteria offers a variety of fruits, vegetables, snacks and milk along with daily meal choices. Food services staff continually look for creative ways to make healthy food presentations appealing, including involving the students in meal preparation.
"We are proud of all of our schools for the healthy meals they provide to students," said Manchester School District school food and nutrition director Jim Connors. "This award recognizes the efforts that go above and beyond to enhance the integration of the smarter lunchroom with everyday education."
To celebrate Hillside Middle School's accomplishment, a representative from the USDA presented Connors, school administrators and staff with a banner and plaque during a school assembly. Mayor Ted Gatsas and school district superintendent Debra Livingston were there to offer their congratulations, and the audience watched a “Healthy Hillside Happenings” video showcasing Hillside’s various exercise and nutrition initiatives. The celebration wrapped up with three abbreviated student-faculty basketball games; the staff team won two of them.
Hillside is Manchester’s third school to receive the USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms award. McLaughlin Middle School also achieved bronze status late last fall, and Beech Street Elementary School was recognized with a silver award in February.