Healthy Schools Campaign
The mission of the Healthy Schools Campaign is to advocate for policies
and model programs that allow students and staff members
to learn and work in a healthy school environment. The
Campaign is doing this by focussing on two key issues,
school environmental health, and the school food environment
in Illinois communities.
Environmental Health in Schools
In the last few decades, there has been a dramatic change in the nature
of childhood illness from simple infections to complex,
chronic, handicapping conditions of multiple origins. There
is a growing body of scientific evidence that points to environmental
chemical exposures as a significant cause of childhood disease and
Since May 2002, the Healthy Schools Campaign has conducted numerous
summits, policy forums and luncheon presentations, and
has held many meetings with individuals and organizations
to bring about positive changes in school environments.
Based on their research, the Campaign has come to four
- Because school attendance is mandated by law, the federal and
state governments and local school districts have a responsibility
to provide healthy school environments.
- Illinois laws
and regulations do not adequately address the need to
protect children from environmental exposures while in
- Unhealthy school environments impact students’ abilities
to learn and teachers’ abilities to teach. A healthy learning
environment is a critical component and must be included
in the discussion on improving academic performance.
to maintenance practices that promote healthy indoor
environments is important in protecting the state’s
recent $2 billion investment in school infrastructure.
School Food Environment
Nationwide, schools are increasingly invaded by junk food and other
food of questionable health and nutritional quality. The Healthy Schools
Campaign works to reverse this situation in Illinois and to help people
nationwide learn more about the issue.
Federally-funded school meal programs are not students' only choices
on campus. Students also now have a variety of food choices during
their school hours and mealtimes, food choices that are called "competitive
foods." These can include food products sold in a la carte areas,
vending machines, snack bars/stores and at fundraising events.
Perhaps most disturbingly with competitive foods, soft drinks and
junk foods are widely available to students in schools. Forty percent
of elementary schools, three-quarters of middle/junior high schools,
and virtually all senior high schools have vending machines, school
stores, or snack bars. The most common items sold out of these venues
include soft drinks, sports drinks, imitation fruit drinks, chips,
candy, and baked goods that are high in fat, sugar, and/or salt. A
la carte areas are available in 78% of secondary schools, 65% middle
schools and 31% elementary schools.
With students spending so much of their time at school during the
week, and with at least one of their daily meals often coming from
there, it is clear that schools provide a critical opportunity to improve
the nutrition of students or to inhibit it. The Healthy School Campaign
works from the position that through changes in school food policies,
we can help children develop healthy lifelong eating habits.
The Healthy Schools Campaign's research, public education efforts,
and coalition building have positioned them to be an effective
advocate for a comprehensive school food agenda. They are
available to work with parents, food service personnel,
and/or school administrators on conducting school food
The Healthy Schools Campaign
website has much more information on
these issues and the many programs in place working to
make our schools centers of health for our children.