OAKLAND, Calif., March 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The makers of Hidden Valley(R) ranch dressings, today announced the Love Your Veggies(TM) Nationwide School Lunch Campaign grant winners. The initiative will provide $15,000 grants to five public elementary schools to support programs for increased access to, and consumption of, fresh vegetables. (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070320/SFTU116-a ) (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070320/SFTU116-b ) 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. Studies show about 80 percent of children and adolescents do not eat the minimum recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. With the significance of lunch in a student's diet and childhood obesity levels continuing to rise, schools are an integral source to ensure kids are getting the right foods each day. "Unfortunately many schools do not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, which makes it hard for students to eat a well-balanced meal," says Lisa Partnoy, marketing manager of Hidden Valley(R) ranch dressings. "We created the Love Your Veggies(TM) initiative as a response to Local Wellness Policies that went into effect at the start of the school year. A moderate amount of ranch dressing helps encourage kids to eat more veggies, so we wanted to do something to help schools promote healthy eating. Seeing the response to the grant program was wonderful -- the schools that submitted applications all demonstrated a commitment to making improved nutrition a priority in the lives of their students." More than 100 schools across the country applied for the Hidden Valley(R) Love Your Veggies(TM) grants, but this school year, only five could be chosen as the recipients. The winning grant proposals were chosen based on creativity, sustainability, and overall student and faculty participation in the program. The Love Your Veggies(TM) grant recipients are: -- Garden City Elementary School (Indianapolis, IN): Plan to install a new veggie bar stocked with assorted produce, an expansion of the school garden for students to tend, and a new after-school club available to all students called "Be Healthy, Be Fit." -- Lakeland Elementary School (Humble, TX): Will create Captain Healthy Star's Vegetable Garden in their cafeteria, a new veggie bar to be stocked with fresh produce, as well as ongoing education on the benefits of specific vegetables. -- Seahurst Elementary School (Burien, WA): Plan to install a new veggie bar to be stocked daily with seasonal produce, a 10-week Food $ense CHANGE garden-based nutrition education program, and fun food and nutrition activities scheduled throughout the school year. -- South Hamilton Elementary School (Jewell, IA): Pledged to get their students healthy via "Veggie Victories!" an interactive program featuring a veggie bar stocked with fresh produce, a physical activity of the month and a veggie of the week, along with a classroom incentive program to excite students and encourage involvement. -- Victor Herbert Elementary School (Chicago, IL): Plan to introduce a new veggie bar that will be stocked with fresh produce, vegetable of the month lessons incorporated into classroom lesson plans, and cooking demonstrations featuring nutritious produce. Additionally, all schools will be implementing a training program on nutrition education and food safety, and offer classroom-based nutritional studies for the students. Hidden Valley(R) Partnering for Success Applications for the grants were received from Oct. 22 through Dec. 15, 2006. Applications were qualified and judged by: Jodie Shield, a registered dietitian and complemental faculty member of the College of Health Sciences in the Department of Clinical Nutrition at Rush University in Chicago; representatives from the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP); 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; and culinary whiz kids Olivia and Isabella Gerasole, hosts of the James Beard award-winning cooking Web site Spatulatta.com. "When judging the grant applications, we looked for creative and innovative ways to enhance cafeteria meals to provide greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables," says Janey Thornton, president of the SNA. "Increased produce consumption is instrumental in improving a child's long-term health and can help with weight control, decreasing risk of heart disease, some types of cancer and diabetes and providing fiber, potassium and other important nutrients. The Hidden Valley grant campaign helps to address the significant shortage of produce in children's diets." Local school events to celebrate the grant awards will include representatives from Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), another organization supporting the Love Your Veggies Campaign. PBH recently renamed its healthy eating campaign from the well-known "5 A Day" to "Fruits and Veggies -- More Matters(TM)" a more inspiring health initiative focusing on motivating people to simply eat more fruits and veggies at every eating occasion because they are not getting enough in their daily diets. "In order to meet the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, most kids need to more than double their current intake of fruits and vegetables," states Elizabeth Pivonka, president and CEO of PBH. "We know from our previous work with schools that offering a school salad bar is a great way to do this. We praise Hidden Valley for their efforts in making fruits and vegetable more accessible in schools and the educational outreach they've done to reach thousands of school kids. We are pleased to be partnering with them to showcase both their efforts and our new Fruits & Veggies -- More Matters health initiative." 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 University of California at Davis and the EFNEP 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. Nutrition Awareness Beyond the Lunch Room A study presented at the most recent American Dietetic Association 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 micro site with the entire curriculum kit is available at http://discoveryeducation.com/hiddenvalley. About Hidden Valley(R) The HV Food Products Company is a subsidiary of The Clorox Company, headquartered in Oakland, Calif. Clorox is a leading manufacturer and marketer of consumer products with fiscal year 2006 revenues of $4.6 billion. With 7,600 employees worldwide, the company manufactures products in two dozen countries and markets them in more than 100 countries. 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