BEND, Ore. - Bend-La Pine Schools has often been recognized for making healthy school lunches that students want to eat, and next week, these tasty meals and their makers will earn national attention.
Seventeen of the district's schools will be awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze awards on Wednesday, November 20 in the federal government's HealthierUS School Challenge, a voluntary national certification initiative that supports Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign.
Bend-La Pine Schools will be the first district in Oregon to receive Gold awards for meeting the most stringent requirements in the challenge. All of the district's elementary schools have received one of the awards – Gold, Silver or Bronze – for superior performance in student nutrition and activity levels.
The following schools will be recognized at an awards assembly at Bear Creek Elementary School on Nov. 20 from 10:30 – 11:15 a.m.:
Gold Awards: Bear Creek, Buckingham, Ensworth, Juniper, La Pine, Rosland and Three Rivers elementary schools
Silver Awards: Elk Meadow, Lava Ridge, Ponderosa and Jewell elementary schools
Bronze Awards: Amity Creek, High Lakes, Highland, Pine Ridge, West Side Village and Miller elementary schools
The awards recognize schools that go above and beyond new federal requirements for school meals. The award criteria include student participation in school meals, nutritional content of meals, including vegetable, fruit and grain availability, nutritional education, and physical activity participation rates. See the complete application criteria list at http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/HealthierUS/2012criteria_chart.html.
The assembly will include an introduction by Superintendent Ron Wilkinson, award presentations by National USDA Farm to School Program Director Deborah Kane, comments by Nutrition Services Supervisor Terry Cashman and Oregon Department of Education Nutrition Services Director Joyce Dougherty. Student performances and lunch at the school will follow.
Katrina Wiest, Bend-La Pine Schools wellness specialist, says students have enjoyed healthy, delicious school meals many years in Bend, La Pine and Sunriver.
"We did not start this program for this award application," said Wiest. "Rather, this program showcases what we were already doing, and we are now being recognized for our efforts to make school meals exceptional for students."
Bend-La Pine Schools serve more than 16,000 made-from-scratch meals per day with a strong focus on locally grown ingredients. District schools serve breakfast, lunch, supper and snacks. The district runs its own bakery, using Oregon wheat. They have several farm-to-school partnerships, including Painted Hills Natural Beef.
"The district provides amazing quality meals," said Wiest. "Kids expect fresh, made-from-scratch meals at school - and we are happy to be able meet and exceed their expectations."