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California Project LEAN

Leaders Encouraging Activity and Nutrition

This edition of California Project LEAN's enews highlights new resources and tools to help schools develop comprehensive physical activity programs. Learn more about how school districts are serving up healthy foods for students. Read on to learn more about how you can engage culturally diverse parents in making changes to the school environment.
New Resources Help School Districts Establish Comprehensive School District Physical Activity Program
active bodiesSchools play an important role in providing quality, comprehensive physical activity opportunities for all students. Students who participate in daily physical activity gain health and academic benefits. (See Active Bodies, Active Minds: Physical Activity and Academic Achievement Fact Sheet.) In order to attain these benefits, research indicates that specific amounts of physical activity are necessary. National guidelines recommend children and adolescents participate daily in 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) (i.e., physical activities that increase the heart rate) with at least 30 minutes of MVPA during the school day. A comprehensive school physical activity program can ensure that students achieve the recommended amounts of daily physical activity by providing opportunities for physical activity before, during, and after the school day. Components can include:   
  • Quality physical education (P.E.): Physical education classes help students acquire the skills and knowledge needed to establish and sustain an active lifestyle. Engaging students in MVPA in P.E. has the greatest potential to contribute to academic and health benefits for most students. (See Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity in Physical Education Fact Sheet.)
  • Physical activity during the school day: Regular physical activity breaks can improve attentiveness and concentration in the classroom, enhance cooperation and negotiation skills, and help establish social norms for active lifestyles. Recess, lunchtime, and classroom-based physical activity, as well as school clubs, competitions, and physically active fundraisers (which can be profitable for schools) are opportunities for students to be physically active. (See Maximizing Opportunities for Physical Activity during the School Day Fact Sheet.)
  • Before and after school programs: Before and after school programs can help contribute to total daily physical activity for youth and can include competitive sports teams, clubs, classes or training, recreational and intramural sports, and noncompetitive activities that involve physical activities (e.g. outdoor education and community service programs). (See After School Physical Activity Guidelines.)
  • Walk and bike to school programs: Various programs have been designed to promote walking and biking to school among youth as a way to increase levels of daily physical activity for children. Safe Routes to School programs can make it easy, safe, and enjoyable for students to walk and bike to and from school on a daily basis. (See Safe Routes to School: Program and Policy Strategies Policy Brief and CSBA's Sample Board Policy and Administrative Regulation 5142.2 - Safe Routes to School Program.)
  • Joint use of recreational facilities: Joint use is a strategy to expand physical activity opportunities for students, staff, and the community by providing access to recreational facilities (e.g., gymnasiums, athletic fields, playgrounds, parks) before, during, and/or after the school day. (See Maximizing Opportunities for Physical Activity through Joint Use of Facilities Policy Brief and CSBA's Sample Board Policy 1330.1 - Joint Use Agreements.)
    For further information, visit California Project LEAN at and the California School Boards Association at
  • Santa Ana Unified School District Serves Up Healthy Food  
    Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) began changing the foods and beverages sold to students even before California's nutrition regulations went into effect in 2007.  "We knew changes were coming, and we didn't want to have to make drastic changes all at once," explained Mary Lou Romero, Director of Food 4 Thought, the district's food services department. The first items targeted were 20-ounce soda fountain drinks and large bags of chips, which resulted in student, and even some staff, disapproval. "Even though the 20-ounce sodas were our biggest seller, I wasn't proud of that," said Romero. "I asked myself if I wanted students to fill their bellies with soda or with real food." Foods and beverages sold from vending machines were the next target. Beginning in 2004, the district began bringing all machines accessible to students under district control and selling only approved foods and beverages. Competitive foods sold at secondary school cafeterias are now confined to a la carte entrées and items from a district-approved list. Elementary schools sell only fruit or milk a la carte.
    While revenue dropped as a result of decreasing competitive foods at the same time that operating costs, such as labor and food increased, meal purchases have remained relatively steady, even as enrollment has declined. Romero attributes some of that success to the district's promotion of the meal program to students and parents. Cafeteria staff participates in every school's Back to School Night and Open House and at community events. Plus, students taste test new recipes so there is buy-in for the meals.
    "The last few years have been tight due to increased operating costs, though we hope to continue to at least break even," said Romero. "There is increased scrutiny on school food services due to obesity concerns, and we're working hard to do what's right for the kids."
    For more information on how to implement a school district plan to improve foods and beverages, check out CPL's Policy in Action: A Guide to Implementing Your Local School Wellness Policy.
    "Engaging Culturally Diverse Parents" Training a Success
    active bodiesCPL, in partnership with the Network for a Healthy California (Network), provided two parent engagement workshops this spring for Network-funded Local Incentive Awardees. The trainings were conducted by Katherine Hawksworth and Vilma Hernandez, both Health Educators for CPL, Amy DeLisio, Chief of the Network Community Development Unit, and Ivan Juzang of MEE (Motivational Educational Entertainment) Productions, a national expert on culturally appropriate messages for hard-to-reach urban and ethnic populations. With California becoming ever more diverse, CPL and other organizations need to find different ways to share information about the importance of good nutrition and physical activity in a way people will understand and accept.
    The two trainings attracted 64 participants who learned how various communication styles must be used to engage parents from different backgrounds. The day-long training focused on communication strategies to reach culturally diverse parents and provided hands-on activities, as well as tools and resources that are useful once a parent group is in place. 
    Participants found the training useful and interesting. "Ivan Juzang was a great speaker and had a great perspective," reported one participant. "By far one of the best speakers I've ever heard." Another participant said "The (CPL) lesson plans are amazing and helpful" and that she appreciated receiving "real information that's doable."
    For a tool kit on engaging parents in school wellness policies, check out Parents in Action: A Guide to Engaging Parents in Local School Wellness Policy. Available in English and Spanish.
    June 2010
    Girl at Playground
    In This Issue
    New Resources for Comprehensive Physical Activity Programs
    Santa Ana USD Serves Up Healthy Food
    Engaging Culturally Diverse Parents
    Childhood Obesity Conference
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    Mark you calendar for the 6th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference, June 28-July 1, 2011 in San Diego. Partners can reserve pre- and post-conference meeting space at the Hyatt Hotel for groups ranging from 40 -200 people. This beautiful beachfront setting is an ideal venue for trainings and meetings. 
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    Photo of girl on playground by Tim Wagner