SOURCE: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health RENEW LA County Initiative

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health RENEW LA County Initiative

August 29, 2011 17:38 ET

Los Angeles Students Say "I'M IN" to Healthy School Lunch

The Los Angeles Unified School District Unveils New Campaign and Menu

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - Aug 29, 2011) - It's a new school year, and for students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), that means a new and improved school lunch menu that will make them want to say "I'M IN" to healthy eating. Studies show that providing nutritious, well-balanced meals are key to students' academic success. Students who don't have proper nutrition have shorter attention spans and lower test scores in school. The District, which serves more than 650,000 meals daily, will release a new student-driven menu with a wellness program that will tie in proper eating and regular exercise.

The new menu and accompanying campaign will be introduced today at the Rancho Dominguez Preparatory School. "I'M IN" is an all-inclusive marketing campaign which supports the District's efforts to help fight childhood obesity, as well as to encourage student attendance and prevent dropouts. The campaign is an invitation to the entire community to make healthy choices and support education for all students.

The District is currently expanding healthy, nutritional policies through a portion of a recent $15.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative, administered through the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's RENEW LA County initiative.

"Providing healthy food and beverage options at school meals, along with education on healthy eating and active living, have the potential to improve the health of students, reduce rates of childhood and adolescent obesity, and improve academic performance," said Dr. Paul Simon, MD, MPH, director of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. "These benefits are likely to be long lasting as healthy behaviors adopted in childhood often continue into adulthood, resulting in decreased risk of chronic diseases and the costs associated with these preventable diseases."

The new LAUSD menu meets and exceeds the USDA's school lunch guidelines and the Institute of Medicine's nutrient recommendations, which include calorie limits, increased fruits and vegetables, more whole grains and limiting sodium in school meals.

"I'M IN" will connect with students, parents, community groups, administrators, teachers and other Los Angeles-based organizations by asking them to get involved and help support the movement. The five-year program will include celebrity-sponsored student and community activities, public service announcements, food tasting events, social media, and traditional advertising in billboards, radio and print publications.

"'I'M IN' is how students prepare outside the classroom to be at their best inside the classroom," said LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy. "'I'M IN' is the promise students make to themselves to eat right, exercise and get their proper rest so they can achieve great things in school."

LAUSD is a national leader in promoting healthy food in the school meals program, including increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables, reducing sodium levels and added sugars in its foods, and banning sodas and other drinks high in sugar. The District has also banned the sale of junk food, and has eliminated food with added trans fats, MSG, artificial dyes and animal fats.

LAUSD's Food Services Division currently serves more 123 million meals each year. For more information on the "I'M IN" campaign, visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ImInLAUSD.

For more information on healthy living in LA County, connect with Choose Health LA online, which represents all of the public health efforts of RENEW LA County. Visit Choose Health LA on Twitter @ChooseHealthLA, on Facebook and at ChooseHealthLA.com.

About RENEW LA County
The LA County Department of Public Health's RENEW (Renew Environments for Nutrition, Exercise and Wellness) initiative seeks to improve nutrition, increase physical activity and reduce obesity in LA County. RENEW LA County is made possible by a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative.

About LA County Department of Public Health
The LA County Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more about Public Health, visit publichealth.lacounty.gov, visit the YouTube channel at youtube.com/lapublichealth, find Public Health on Facebook at facebook.com/lapublichealth, or follow Public Health on Twitter: LAPublicHealth