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Schools win healthy meals award

Cumberland County Public Schools (CCPS) is one of six school divisions to receive top honors in the 2017 Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) Food for Thought Competition.

According to a press release from School Board Clerk and Director of Human Resources Dr. Elizabeth Jamerson, winning divisions were recognized by Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe at the VSBA Conference on Education, which took place in Richmond on July 18.

Specifically, the division won in the healthy school meals category.

Jamerson said the competition was created in 2012 to educate, engage and empower school leaders to address childhood hunger and provide all students in Virginia with healthier, more nutritious school meals.

“We try to take advantage of every available opportunity to provide our students with what they need to be successful, which includes opportunities to have access to healthy food,” Jamerson said. “Bill Brandt, the food services coordinator, put much time and effort into developing a program that helps students make healthy food choices, so it was nice to see his efforts recognized.”

According to a CCPS press release, this is the fourth time the division has received a Food for Thought award having previously won in each category.

“Based on research, the food services coordinator developed the Healthy Eating Campaign whereby students were given numerous choices in healthy foods and given the opportunity to try various fruits, vegetables and other food items,” Jamerson wrote in the application for the award. “This would provide students with enticing alternatives to cheaper unhealthy foods available at home.”

She said it was decided that students needed more education concerning nutrition starting at an early age.

“While providing sufficient food has always been a priority for school divisions, (the school division) also realized the importance of ensuring that students had access to healthy, nutritious food offerings,” Jamerson said. “(Brandt) developed a plan that called for expanded nutritious food choices, more opportunities for students to sample new foods, and a focused attempt to educate young students on the importance of good nutrition.”

According to the press release, the VSBA is a voluntary, nonpartisan organization of Virginia school boards. Its goal is to promote excellence in public education through advocacy, training and services.