Schools try to stretch grant for nutrition

COVINGTON - The school nutrition department at the Newton County School System plans to make a little money go a long way.

In December, the system received a $300 nutrition grant, the Do Amazing Things wellness education mini-grant, which was one of 10 grants in Georgia that the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association gave to state school districts.

Susan Stone, nutrition education coordinator at NCSS, and Steven Joyce, physical education teacher at Fairview Elementary School, applied for the grant to educate students on nutrition and exercise.

"The grant is designed to promote wellness in schools by encouraging students to make positive changes regarding their eating and exercise habits," said Jan Loomans, director of school nutrition at NCSS.

She said Joyce will head up the Move More Challenge portion of the grant, which uses team work, cooperation and nutrition education in fitness activities through games and fitness stations; Joyce also will use the grant money to purchase equipment like floor scooters and jerseys.

The school nutrition department chose to team up with Joyce because of his interest in promoting student wellness, Loomans said, but the grant is said to help the entire system.

Deborah Robertson, associate superintendent for administration at NCSS, said they plan to use the materials and knowledge all throughout the system, rather than only at Fairview.

This program will coincide with other programs the nutrition department already has in the works at all of its schools.

The department also is promoting a program, Food Groups to Encourage, that will include low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables and whole grains through new menu items, taste-testing and nutrition messaging, Loomans said.

In January, students also are expected to start their self-report behaviors regarding their nutrition and exercise habits for the rest of the school year, among other activities the nutrition department develops for students after officials find other faculty partners and other wellness promotions.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.