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Jul-06-2011 14:50printcomments

Willamina Elementary Takes School Lunch to the White House

Lynne Duda, Nutrition Services Director for Willamina School District, to be honored by First Lady Obama at HealthierUS Schools Challenge White House Reception

Lynne Duda
Lynne Duda

(WILLAMINA, Ore.) - Willamina School Nutrition Director Lynne Duda is headed to the White House to attend a reception hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama in honor of the school's accomplishments in serving healthy school meals.

Mrs. Obama invited the Willamina School District official to a July 29 reception on the White House South Lawn honoring participants in the HealthierUS Schools Challenge Program.

"It is a huge honor to not only represent my district but the state of Oregon and the efforts of Oregon’s school nutrition professionals to develop a healthier generation," said Lynne Duda.

Mrs. Obama's invitation accompanied a June 24 letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture applauding the schools' efforts "to create an environment that helps children learn about healthy food choices and being physically active."

The USDA was "inspired by the stories of success from HealthierUS School Challenge Schools," the letter said.

The Willamina Elementary School was one of the first schools in the country and the only Oregon school to be certified under the new USDA standards for the HealthierUS School Challenge Award, which recognizes schools that meet high standards for school meal programs and provide nutrition education and physical fitness opportunities for students. Only 230 of the nation’s 14,000 school districts have the distinction of having a HealthierUS School.

The HealthierUS Schools Challenge requires school menus to incorporate whole grains daily, fresh fruit, different fruit and vegetable for every day of the week, beans/legumes each week, dark green and orange vegetables three days a week and low fat milk.

Each challenge application is scrutinized by the District then the State before it goes to Federal level. At any point, the application may be rejected. Not only does the program involve physical education and nutrition, but the schools must also have at least 70 percent of students eating school meals.

“We know that students have options when it comes to eating lunch and our high participation demonstrates that kids are choosing to eat hot lunch. It shows that schools can serve healthy meals that kids like.” Duda said.

Willamina Elementary School was also one of three schools this year to be awarded the 2011 Oregon Wellness award for outstanding student wellness programs.

In 2010 they were nationally recognized as a School Nutrition Association District of Excellence. This is a distinction earned by only twenty-four school districts nationwide since 2008 that have met and exceeded an intense School Nutrition Association appraisal of best practice standards.

Willamina and Gooding School District in Idaho are the only two districts in the nation that have earned both HealthierUS Schools Challenge and District of Excellence distinctions.

Ms. Duda’s expenses for attendance of the White House event have been generously paid for by the Oregon School Nutrition Association.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.