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Welcome to the Illinois Team

Action for Healthy Kids is the nation’s leading non-profit and largest volunteer network fighting childhood obesity and undernourishment by partnering with schools to improve nutrition and physical activity to help our kids learn to eat right, be active every day, and be ready to learn.

The Illinois Action for Healthy Kids Team is committed to increasing its work directly with schools and districts by building its membership and utilizing proven programs that generate excitement about healthy schools.

Upcoming Events

Happy summer! Stay tuned for events closer to the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

Our Latest News

HealthierUS School Challenge Grants Strengthen Nutrition and Physical Activity Environments

The following five Illinois schools received a 2012 Team Nutrition Training Mini-grant of $3,500, funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The purpose of the grant award was to receive training, technical assistance, and resources to submit a HealthierUS School Challenge application in FY14. Each district submitted a HUSSC application this past spring of 2014.

Best Practices of the HealthierUS School Challenge Mini-grant Schools
Some of the HUSSC mini-grant schools best practices incorporated as a result of the TNT12 mini-grants are highlighted below.

Calumet CUSD132
One of the activities that Calumet School, (6-8th grades) in Calumet Community Unit School District 132 conducted was a Parents Night engaging over 350 students and 90 percent of the parents with students attending Calumet. Students acquired education via their onsite trips to Farmer's Markets on growing and harvesting procedures.

Department of Human Services, Illinois School for the Visually Impaired
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held in Jacksonville, at the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired (ISVI) on April 10, 2014 for the outdoor garden. This is very exciting as the last time the ISVI grew a garden outdoors was in the 1930's. A Healthy US grant from the USDA for providing nutritional education will allow ISVI students to take part in planting, weeding and harvesting fresh vegetables and herbs. After the ribbon cutting each student was offered the opportunity to plant an onion. The garden is outlined by markers that were made in industrial technology class. The markers feature the name of the item to be planted in large print and in Braille. The garden project will be supervised by Dietary Manager Cindy Daugherty and Horticulture Educator Barbara French. This is going to be a rewarding learning experience for ISVI students. Source: ISVI Happenings, Illinois Department of Human Services May 2014, modified

East Richland Community Unit School District 1
Positive health messaging, promotions and marketing on school news broadcast, community involvement via volunteers, local food coop partners, taste tests, food service training, all summarize the health efforts at East Richland High School in FY2014. The mini-grant provided the incentive to the school to re-establish an Active Wellness Committee, provide training for Food service and educators, and purchase informational and appealing posters and promotional materials, according to Chris A. Simpson, East Richland High School Principal.

Pembroke Consolidated School District 259
Food service staff at Lorenzo R. Smith School provides their students with instruction on the origin and history of new fruits and vegetables which are offered to almost 300 students. Often, after repeated offerings, students begin to enjoy the taste and have an appreciation for the variety of offerings. Pembroke Consolidated School District partners with community groups such as the Black Veterans –Pembroke NABVETS for sponsorship assistance. The school participates in Fuel Up to Play as well.

Sandoval Community Unit School District 501
According to Linda Brissenden, Transformation Administrator, Sandoval Community Unit School District 501 (Sandoval CUSD501), "we participated in more health-related activities than we would have without the grant." The Sandoval Community Unit School District 501 implements the We Choose Health initiative at Sandoval Junior-Senior High School, collaborating with many community organizations, the local hospital, Community Colleges, Area Business Roundtable and others. A second annual Sandoval Area Community Health Fair was held.

Ms. Brissenden describes a scenario turned positive with student input and involvement. "Parents were complaining on behalf of their students about the school lunches due to the reduced portions and frequency of serving of some foods students didn't like (for example, black beans and never having mashed potatoes). The Board wanted positive action to resolve the issue. Meetings were set up and held with Board representatives, administrators, cooks and student and the Vendor representative of US Foods, to discuss why certain foods could not be served together as an approved lunch, why portions were what they were, why some foods were included and other food was not, and to discuss options that could be substituted. The food vendor explained the rules but said there were options if she knew what students liked and would eat. A student volunteered to conduct a survey of students to determine what their favorite lunch trays of food were so that a rotation of "liked" meals could be set up that would still meet the USDA requirements. A menu rotation was set up and the Food Services staff stocked an attractive salad bar and offered some new recipes suggested by the food vendor.

What made this project particularly exciting was that a student, who sits on the Board of Education as a student representative, created a questionnaire and polled every student. He and another student summarized their results, ranking the most selected entrees. The food vendor created menus in a rotation that satisfied the students' needs and were in compliance. The student and administrators kept the Board informed and students were given options."

Kudos to these schools' efforts to build a healthier school environment through better nutrition and physical activity practices and taking the HealthierUS School Challenge!

If your school is interested in applying for the HUSSC, visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/hussc/healthierus-school-challenge-application-materials.

For further information, contact:

Joan M. Love, MS, LDN, SNS
ISBE- Nutrition and Wellness Programs
100 N. First St., W-270
Springfield, IL 62777-0001
800/545-7892 (IL only)

Expanding School Breakfast

General Mills Foodservice joins forces with National Dairy Council®'s as the 2014 Breakfast Sponsor, supporting grants to expand school breakfast. Addressing the important role the breakfast meal plays in providing nutrient-rich foods and beverages to students, these grants are designed to increase student participation by serving breakfast outside the cafeteria in creative ways.

Schools that meet the following criteria may apply for a grant to start a new breakfast program or improve an existing one. Whether it is breakfast in the classroom, grab 'n' go breakfast, second chance breakfast after first class period, or expand breakfast offerings to include dairy options such as yogurt to serve breakfast to more students, the students and the school meal programs will benefit.


1. Participation in National School Breakfast Program

2. Have at least 500 students

3. Have a breakfast ADP of less than 40% (room for improvement)

4. Enroll in Fuel Up to Play 60

Schools can apply for a Fuel Up™ 2014 Breakfast: Click here to learn more about the Fuel Up! Breakfast Grants.

Deadline for applications is August 29, 2014.

Thank you Summertime Stride 5K Participants!

For the second year in a row, the Mokena Community Park District in Mokena, Illinois selected Illinois Action for Healthy Kids as the benefactor of its 4th annual Summertime Stride 5K. The event was held on June 7, 2014 and it hosted close to 400 parents, kids and other community members who were enthusiastic to support IL AFHK's school wellness programs. Event goers who visited the AFHK booth were encouraged by AFHK's vision to have all kids develop the lifelong habits necessary to promote health and learning.

The Mokena Community Park District selected IL AFHK as a benefactor again because of the aligned mission between AFHK and the Mokena Community Park District to enhance the educational health of communities, especially children. The goal of the event was to create a fun and fitness friendly environment for Mokena residents to invite the start of summer and outdoor physical activity. "Everyone seemed to really enjoy the event and the opportunity to experience a nice, fitness-oriented experience with their family and friends," stated Erin Cortilet, Recreation Supervisor, Special Events & Trips, Mokena Community Park District.

The Summertime Stride 5K began with a warm up activity to get the participants stretched and ready to go for their run. The event included a USA Track and Field-certified course and transponder timed run, a fun walk, and kids' dashes. Medals were awarded to the top three participants in each age category. Participant's ages ranged from three to seventy years old, making the Summertime Stride 5k hit its mark to promote health and wellness for their entire community.

The Learning Connection

Have you heard about Action for Healthy Kids' latest report, The Learning Connection: What You Need to Know to Ensure Your Kids are Healthy and Ready to Learn, which outlines why healthy kids learn better? This tool can help schools, parents and community members across Illinois learn how to engage local schools to ensure that school wellness programs are being implemented so that kids are equipped for success.

Enhancing Physical Education in Illinois

In summer 2012, the Illinois legislature and Governor Pat Quinn established an Enhance P.E. Task Force charged with promoting enhanced P.E. through strategies that align with the Strategic Plan and tasked with making recommendations on updating the K-12 learning standards for physical development and health. This task force recently released a state report that calls for new benchmarks and strategies to improve and increase physical education classes. Check out the report recommendations here.

Enhanced P.E. correlates directly to the health and well-being of students throughout their lives and has cognitive benefits, too, making students more receptive to learning. There is a significant body of research showing that children who are more physically active per­form better in class and on standardized tests. Improving opportunities for physical activity is an imperative for improving our children’s academic achievement and their health.

Many Illinois school districts have already begun implementing enhanced P.E. in their schools. Learn how they did it below!

Team Healthy Kids

Team Healthy Kids is for anyone who wants kids to be healthy and wants to do something about it! Whether you want to run a marathon, host a local event, walk a 5K or simply support someone who is already signed up, this is the right place for you. Whatever you choose to do, your efforts will help schools provide good food and fitness programs for kids. Learn more about Team Healthy Kids here.

Looking ahead

Our goals are to:

  • Educate students on healthy living and how to make changes in their school to impact health.
  • Train schools on school breakfast to increase participation and encourage schools to adapt alternative models.
  • Recruit community members to become change agents for health in their school communities.

Get Involved

There are many opportunities to get involved with Action for Healthy Kids in Illinois--from becoming a team member, to attending Action for Healthy Kids’ events, to making a financial contribution--you can help create a safer environment for our kids! Please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information or click on one of the volunteer opportunities below:

If you feel compelled to lend your voice to one of most important issues of our time, and would like to take that first step towards creating a healthier environment for our kids, join the Action for Healthy Kids community by taking the Every Kid Healthy Pledge on the left-hand side of the page.


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