OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- As schools across the nation push to meet the new federally-mandated Local Wellness Policy aimed at improving nutrition and creating health-based standards, the makers of Hidden Valley(R) ranch dressings, owned by The Clorox Company (NYSE: CLX) based in Oakland, have pledged to help. (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20061010/CGTU061 ) The makers of Hidden Valley(R) ranch dressings announced today the Love Your Veggies(TM) Nationwide School Lunch Campaign, an initiative that will provide $15,000 grants to five public elementary schools in the United States to support increased access to, and consumption of, fresh vegetables. "The Local Wellness Policy is a critical and positive step toward improved children's health and promotion of healthy behaviors," says Lisa Partnoy, marketing manager of Hidden Valley(R) ranch dressings. "But in order for a policy like this to succeed, it must be met with strong action and support -- from government to educators to parents to the community. Our grant program is one way we can help our schools." Millions of students nationwide consume lunch at school daily. And, for many children, it is the most important meal of the day, contributing one- third to one-half of their nutritional intake, according to USDA. With the significance of lunch in a student's diet and added pressure from the policy, schools often struggle with how to meet the new guidelines. "One solution is to look at how to enhance cafeteria meals to provide greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables," says registered dietician Jodie Shield, a complemental faculty member of the College of Health Sciences in the Department of Clinical Nutrition at Rush University in Chicago. According to Shield, about 80 percent of children and adolescents do not eat the minimum recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. "Increased produce consumption is instrumental in improving a child's long-term health," adds Shield. "Meeting USDA guidelines for fruit and vegetable intake can help with weight control; decrease risk of heart disease, some types of cancer and diabetes; and help address issues with lack of fiber, potassium and other important nutrients. The Hidden Valley grant campaign helps to address the significant shortage of produce in children's diets." The Hidden Valley(R) Love Your Veggies(TM) Nationwide School Lunch Campaign was created based on findings from a recent study with two Northern California elementary schools conducted by the University of California Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and the Butte County Cooperative Extension. One of the most significant findings from the study was that children consumed 23 percent more vegetables when paired with a moderate amount of ranch dressing. "It's not surprising that a flavor enhancer, like ranch dressing, can make veggie eating more enjoyable for kids," says Shield. "Many parents struggle with getting their kids to eat vegetables, so this is a great way to help them meet their recommended daily allowance." Makers of Hidden Valley(R) Ranch Dressings Start with Help to Neighboring School For the development and implementation of the grant program, the makers of Hidden Valley(R) ranch dressings have partnered with EFNEP and the School Nutrition Association (SNA), a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. Grant funding must be spent toward equipment for a vegetable station, fresh produce (vegetables and fruits), program staffing (to run the vegetable station), a training course for school personnel given by their local EFNEP representative on how to create a healthy and nutritious environment in school, and nutrition education supplies. To kick off the grant program, the makers of Hidden Valley(R) ranch dressings are helping a school in their own backyard. The company today donated a vegetable station and $15,000 toward training and its long-term maintenance to Sequoia Elementary School, an Oakland school with a population of nearly 350 children. The Hidden Valley brand team is proud to give a grant to Sequoia Elementary," said Partnoy. "The staff is eager to develop ways to effectively sustain this program in the future. Schools can apply for a grant now through December 15, 2006. Applications will be qualified and judged by Shield as well as representatives from EFNEP and the SNA. Grant recipients will be announced in January 2007 with vegetable stations implemented soon after. Public schools can secure a grant application for The Hidden Valley(R) Love Your Veggies(TM) Nationwide School Lunch Campaign by visiting http://www.schoolnutrition.org/veggiegrant . Nutrition Awareness Beyond the Lunch Room A new study presented at the recent American Dietetic Association's Food and Nutrition Conference and Exhibition found that students may not necessarily eat more vegetables by virtue of the salad bar alone if the changes in the cafeteria are not supported by nutrition education in the classroom. Researchers at Loyola University and the University of Illinois at Chicago found that salad bar use soars when teachers support the new cafeteria addition with lessons on nutrition. To address this issue, the makers of Hidden Valley(R) ranch dressings have partnered with Discovery Education, creators of innovative teaching materials and resources for students, to distribute thousands of classroom kits to elementary schools nationwide and grant recipient schools. Focused on the theme of "Super Veggies," students will learn why some foods are better than others and how exercise is an important part of any healthful eating plan. A microsite with the entire curriculum kit will be available online. The Clorox Company The Clorox Company is a leading manufacturer and marketer of consumer products with fiscal year 2006 revenues of $4.6 billion. Clorox markets some of consumers' most trusted and recognized brand names, including its namesake bleach and cleaning products, Armor All(R) and STP(R) auto-care products, Fresh Step(R) and Scoop Away(R) cat litter, Kingsford(R) charcoal, Hidden Valley(R) and K C Masterpiece(R) dressings and sauces, Brita(R) water- filtration systems, and Glad(R) bags, wraps and containers. With 7,600 employees worldwide, the company manufactures products in 25 countries and markets them in more than 100 countries. Clorox is committed to making a positive difference in the communities where its employees work and live. Founded in 1980, The Clorox Company Foundation has awarded cash grants totaling more than $66.3 million to nonprofit organizations, schools and colleges; and in fiscal 2006 alone made product donations valued at $6 million. For more information about Clorox, visit http://www.TheCloroxCompany.com . About the School Nutrition Association The School Nutrition Association is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals. Founded in 1946, SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children's health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.
SOURCE Hidden Valley(R) ranch dressings