ATLANTA – The Aetna Foundation, the independent philanthropic arm of Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET), has awarded a $40,000 grant to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to make school lunches healthier and more appealing to kids in Cobb and DeKalb Counties. The funding supports the expansion of Children’s Strong4Life School Nutrition Training Program, an initiative launched in 2012 to train school cafeteria managers in ways to make vegetables, whole grains and other nutritious foods more fun for kids to eat.
“We appreciate the Aetna Foundation’s support to expand our program to 255 more schools this year,” said Trisha Hardy, director of Child Wellness, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “We can make a real difference in the health of Greater Atlanta’s children by educating school cafeteria staff in the serious health issues stemming from childhood obesity and training them in techniques that will encourage kids to make healthy choices as they come through the lunch line.”
The training program for cafeteria employees provides a core curriculum in children’s nutrition and the role of diet in health and wellness. The program also offers practical, hands-on activities to make nutritious food more appealing, such as creating attractive fresh fruit and vegetable displays, designing visually exciting menu boards, making water and low-fat milk more accessible than chocolate milk and other sugary beverages, and creative naming approaches for healthy eating options, such as “Superhero Spinach.”
“With the vast majority of students eating both breakfast and lunch at school, we need to ensure that kids are consuming wholesome food that will make them healthier, fitter and ready to learn,” said Garth Graham, M.D., M.P.H., president of the Aetna Foundation. “We are pleased to support this program that enlists those on the front lines of preparing school meals to help kids establish healthy eating habits that can lead to a lifetime of good health.”
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta anticipates that nearly 375 school cafeteria managers and staff, impacting upwards of 210,000 school kids, will have received the Strong4Life training program by the end of the 2013 – 2014 school year.
In 2011, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, one of the largest pediatric clinical care providers in the country, took on a mission and developed Strong4Life, a wellness movement designed to ignite societal change and reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity and its associated diseases in Georgia. Created and maintained by the doctors, nutritionists and wellness experts at Children’s, Strong4Life seeks to reach people, no matter where they are in their readiness for change with the information, tools and support they need to get and keep their family healthier and stronger. Since then, Strong4Life has been in the community reaching families through public awareness, policy change efforts, school programs, healthcare provider programs and community partnerships. For more information, join our community at strong4life.com, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
About Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Dedicated to All Better
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a not-for-profit organization, is committed to enhancing the lives of children through excellence in patient care, research and education. Managing more than half a million patient visits annually at three hospitals and 17 neighborhood locations, Children’s is one of the largest clinical care providers for children in the country. Children’s offers access to more than 30 pediatric specialties and is ranked among the top children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. With generous philanthropic and volunteer support, Children’s has made an impact in the lives of children in Georgia, the United States and throughout the world. Visit www.choa.org for more information.
About the Aetna Foundation
The Aetna Foundation, Inc. is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna Inc. Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have contributed more than $427 million in grants and sponsorships, including more than $14.6 million awarded in 2012. As a national health foundation, we promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone. This work is enhanced by the time and commitment of Aetna employees, who have volunteered four million hours since 2003. The Aetna Foundation’s current giving is focused on addressing the rising rate of adult and childhood obesity in the U.S.; promoting racial and ethnic equity in health and health care; and advancing integrated health care. For more information, visit www.aetnafoundation.org.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Robin Applebaum, 404-785-7806