Mrs. Deal and Dr. Fitzgerald, director of the Division of Public Health for the Georgia Department of Community Health, took a look at the school system’s nutrition program, which received USDA Gold Standard awards in the Healthier U.S. Schools Challenge, a voluntary certification for schools participating in the National School Lunch Program.
Carrollton City Schools is the only school system in Georgia to achieve the Gold award and the high school is one of only a few in the country to achieve the honor.
They also visited physical education classes, and had lunch at Carrollton High.
In past 10 years in the state of Georgia, hospitalization due to obesity in children between the ages of 2-18 has gone up 375 percent, Fitzgerald said. Georgia has the second highest childhood obesity rate in the United States with Mississippi being first.
“Parents want to make their families healthier, but with all that is going in families, with both parents working and the single-parent homes, curbing obesity and living healthier will not come easy,” Fitzgerald said. “Unhealthy foods are just too easy. We have built our schedules around fast and easy access to foods loaded with fat and sugar.”
Fitzgerald is a Carrollton resident whose children attended Carrollton schools.
“We are honored to have her bring the first lady to her home school system,” said Linette Dodson, the city school system’s director of food and nutrition. “The governor is supporting what’s kind of a national initiative with wellness, promoting an overall healthy school environment. The state is doing the SHAPE program, a gathering of baseline fitness data.”
Dodson met a couple of months ago with a representative of the Department of Public Health about the Healthier U.S. School Challenge Gold Award. A report was submitted to the governor based on their visit and what the school system had done in preparation for the Healthier U.S. Schools challenge application.
“There is consideration that we might be a flagship system for his initiative,” Dodson said. “No formal statement on it. I know that it’s a product of what’s been done in the school level, promoting activity in the day time — getting rid of vending machine and unhealthy outside food options and what we’ve done in the school food options. So we’re proud to set an example of a healthy school environment.”