Teachers Learn to Make a Difference at Healthy Schools Summit

The summit included tips on nutritious food and physical activity

FARGO, N.D. — Over 100 teachers were at the Dakota Medical Foundation’s Healthy Schools Summit to learn how they can make their classrooms healthier for students.

“Healthy eating and physical activity are just as important as the reading, writing, and arithmetic in schools,” said Char Heer, a registered dietitian with the Midwest Dairy Council.

The theme for the summit was “Ready, Set, Activate.”

Teachers got tips on everything from how to add physical activities to the school day to reducing cafeteria waste.

“We want [students] to be physically active, understand what that means, not just be running around but what happens to your body when you are physically active,” said Nick Christianson, a P.E. teacher.

“If we can impact the health and wellness of our students we see those academic scores increase and those behavioral issues decrease. So the more physical activity we can get into the day, the better,” said Keely Ihry, a health and wellness coordinator.

Teachers can play an active role in making sure kids are getting the healthy foods they need.

The USDA sets nutritional guidelines for schools to follow so students can have nutritious meals.

Teachers at the Healthy School Summit followed those same guidelines for themselves, having dairy, fresh fruit, whole grains, and protein.

“Breakfast is so important. We have fewer than probably 20 to 30 percent of students eating breakfast every day so that’s a lot of hungry children,” Heer said.

A common misconception is that there isn’t enough time to incorporate healthy habits, but it can be quite simple with a bit of planning.

“I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions for adults and children, that eating healthy is hard. It’s really not. There are so many convenient items out there that are healthy,” Heer said.

If money is tight, schools have resources to make sure students in need have access to nutritious food.

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