Vern Patrick Elementary wins Oregon Department of Education Wellness Award

Vern Patrick Elementary was awarded the 2018 Oregon Department of Education (ODE) School Wellness Award by representatives of ODE at an assembly on Thursday, May 17, 2018.

“We’re very proud of the School Wellness Award as it speaks to the hard work and dedication of the staff of Vern Patrick and the district’s Nutrition Services team to prioritize and implement programs promoting health and nutrition for our students,” said Tiffani Schwarm, Community School Coordinator at Vern Patrick.

Initiated in 2008 with the support of the Nutrition Council of Oregon, ODE Child Nutrition Programs created the School Wellness Awards to recognize schools for their outstanding efforts to improve child health and make the connection between nutrition, physical activity and academic achievement.

Each year, ODE selects only three winners for the award in the entire state. The winners are selected based on outstanding implementation of school district wellness policy that includes nutrition promotion and education, physical education and physical activity, school meal programs, school-wide policies and initiatives and community involvement.

Last year, the  Vern Patrick Wellness Team applied for and received the Fuel up to Play 60 grant. The grant is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by the National Dairy Council and National Football League, in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture, to help encourage today’s youth to lead healthier lives. Vern Patrick used the grant to fund a smoothie cart, providing students with a healthier snack option. The school was also able to upgrade and purchase new recess and physical education equipment.

In addition, Vern Patrick implemented a Junior Coach program, which trains student leaders to facilitate games on the playground, manage the equipment carts and help with peer-to-peer problem-solving.

In March each year, awards are announced at the Oregon School Nutrition Association Conference. The signed certificate was received at the conference on behalf of the school by Tammie McCombs, Nutrition Services Assistant Director for Redmond School District.

“It was an honor to represent our district and receive this recognition by ODE at an assembly of hundreds of nutrition professionals from all over the state,” McCombs said.

As sponsor of the awards, Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council provides $2,500 and a recognition banner for each winner. The banners and cash award were presented during the assembly at Vern Patrick.