HEALTHY Armstrong

Healthy Eating, Active Lifestyles, Together Helping Youth

We are excited to make healthy living a reality for families in Armstrong County. HEALTHY Armstrong began in 2005 when Armstrong School District (located in Armstrong County, Pa.) found that 35 percent of its students were heavier than 85 percent of children the same age nationwide. Alarmed by this statistic, community leaders formed a coalition to improve the health and well-being of these children. UPMC Health Plan and several other organizations soon stepped up to establish HEALTHY Armstrong.

Find HEALTHY Armstrong on Facebook and Twitter.

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Nutrition

A Healthy Vending machine

A new nutrition curriculum was implemented at all Armstrong School District (ASD) elementary schools. ASD food service has also:

  • Removed deep fryers, traditional vending machines, and a-la-carte candy and soda.
  • Added more fruit and vegetable choices, daily yogurt/fruit plates, meal salads, and a daily soup choice.
  • Switched to turkey lunchmeats and sausages, 1 percent and skim milk, and only whole-wheat products.
  • Increased chicken, fish, and turkey choices.
  • Reduced the number of desserts offered.
  • Added healthy vending with low-fat cheese, pretzels, granola bars, and low-calorie drinks.

UPMC Health Plan and representatives of HEALTHY Armstrong co-wrote a peer-reviewed article about HEALTHY Armstrong’s nutrition improvements that was published in the Journal of School Health. The article is entitled “Effect of food service nutrition improvements on elementary school cafeteria lunch purchase patterns.” Download the full article here.

Physical Activity

Indoor rock climbing

Formal district-wide policies were implemented at the elementary schools for fitness assessment and grading. A physical education curriculum was developed for grades K-12, including lesson plans and written units.

Activities include morning exercise programs to begin the day and “active health class” during the school day. Many schools use pulse monitors and pedometers. The elementary schools participate in ACES (All Children Exercising Simultaneously), a national program that reinforces the importance of regular physical exercise.

Thanks to two Carol M. White Physical Education Program grants, fitness equipment has been upgraded at all elementary and secondary schools. Rock climbing walls were installed at the two high schools, Wii Fit game systems were purchased, and walking sticks and mountain bicycles are available for students to use during gym class.

Results

Physical Activity Results Infographic

ASD also tracks Kid Minutes — the number of minutes of in-school physical activity each student participates in throughout the year, outside of regular physical education class. During the 2016-17 school year, ASD elementary schools achieved 1,191,380 total Kid Minutes.

Resources

Materials:

HEALTHY Armstrong Fact Sheet
Early Childhood Rack Card

Videos:

A Plan for Healthy Living: HEALTHY Armstrong
Pittsburgh Today Live! HEALTHY Armstrong Launches
Healthy Recipe Campaign (segment on ASD-TV)
Education Today

Cluss PA, Fee LA, Culyba RJ, Bhat KB, Owen K. Effect of food service nutrition improvements on elementary school cafeteria lunch purchase patterns. J Sch Health. 2014; 84: 355-362.

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