The Georgia Department of Public Health and Georgia Shape recently announced grants to 24 schools for the 2019-2020 school year. For the eighth year, the Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC) will continue to provide technical assistance to the selected schools as they plan and implement nutrition and physical activity programs, environmental changes, and policies to improve the overall health of their students.
“The evidence is clear that active children who eat healthy learn better. Integrating nutrition, physical activity and academic content in schools can have a tremendous impact in helping to shape the long-term health behavior of young people,” says Debbie Kibbe, a senior research associate at GHPC and project lead for the center’s Shape work. “With 1.19 million Georgia children participating in school lunch, the fifth largest school lunch program in the nation, Georgia schools can play a key role in educating youth about heath and facilitate adoption of healthier habits. Previous participants have proven that schools can implement many of these healthier policies without incurring additional expenses and with the support of parents and students.”
To date over nine rounds of funding, 207 grants totaling more than $850,000 have been awarded to public schools in 61 Georgia school districts.
This school year, grantees are awarded a $3,200 core grant to focus on nutrition or a $5,200 enhanced grant which supports both nutrition and physical activity strategies. The funding is intended to empower schools to implement activities that promote lifelong healthy behaviors, which will help combat obesity and mitigate health risks from chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.
GHPC facilitated the annual Healthy Schools Summit in October to support new grantees in planning for action. Throughout the year, awardees receive technical assistance from GHPC to ensure they implement sustainable activities customized for the needs of the students and staff.
Georgia Shape, former Gov. Nathan Deal’s childhood obesity initiative, was initiated in 2012 to address the poor health status of Georgia’s kids and adolescents, who ranked 17th in the nation for childhood obesity. Collectively, Georgia Shape efforts are intended to improve the state’s health outcomes among youth as part of the Georgia School Health and Physical Education Act. The Georgia Shape grants also help schools meet nutritional guidelines outlined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act and other federal laws that protect and advance student health.