Banner: Healthier Schools

Healthy school environments are paramount for the proper development of Latino children, given the rising percentage of Latino students enrolled in public schools and the higher rates of obesity among Latino children than other racial/ethnic groups.

How can healthy schools be the norm for Latinos?

Implementing and enforcing stronger nutrition standards for competitive foods and beverages will help all students have access to healthier snacks at school, which may positively influence body mass index (BMI) trends for all populations, especially those at greatest risk of being overweight or obese.

Because Latino students engage in less physical activity both in and out of school than their peers, implementing programs that reduce barriers may increase active play opportunities for Latino kids.

Moreover, regulation of the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children will help positively influence the quality of their diets.

Download Our New 2016 Healthier Schools Research Review, Issue Brief, and Infographics!

Research_reviewResearch Review
Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 2.50.50 PMInfographic: Physical Activity

Healthier Schools: What‘s New?

See SA! Changes SA! Resources Salud Heroes in this topic.

SA! Resource 19 Evidence-Based Strategies for Recess

Latino Health Physical Activity Recess School

Recess can help kids get their 60 minutes of recommended daily physical activity to reduce their risk of developing lifelong chronic diseases, like heart disease, and diabetes, and to improve their academic performance and mental health. Unfortunately, Latino kids have fewer opportunities before, after, and during school for physical activity than white kids. The Centers for … Read more

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SA! Change Parents Lead the Way in Healthy School Lunches

Fifth grader Parker McClintick gives a presentation on West Park Elementary School's exhibit about unhealthy foods at Napa Food Day. (Source: Napa Valley Register/ Noel Brinkerhoff)

Napa Valley Unified School District, California

Napa Valley Unified School District, (33.9% Latino) operates 32 schools within the district and now is working towards healthier and tastier school lunches as parents have come together to lobby for the district to change what it offers for students lunches. The lunch reform movement started in recent years with a passionate group of parents that … Read more

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SA! Change Las Vegas High School Creates Fitness Studio from a Storage Room


Clark County School District, Nevada

Students at Western High School in Las Vegas (64.7% Latino), now have their very own yoga studio thanks to a unique partnership between sportswear retailer Lululemon and Create a Change Now, a Las Vegas non-profit agency. The two groups and local artists D2 came together to transform an old storage space into a state-of-the art … Read more

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SA! Change Fox Farm Plants Hope For Health in Southern California Elementary School

Students from Altadena's Franklin Elementary School celebrate their first harvest from their school garden. (Photo Source: Pasadena Now)

Pasadena Unified School District, California

Within the Pasadena Unified School District (53.6% Latino students), students at Altadena’s Franklin Elementary School celebrate their first harvest from their school garden, Fox Farm. According to Pasadena Now, Franklin Elementary School is considered one of the most underserved elementary schools in the District (72% Latino), where more than 40% are English learners, more than … Read more

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SA! Change Laredo ISD Cooks Up a Healthy Challenge With Nickelodeon TV Star

Actress Daniella Monet.

Laredo Independent School District, Texas

A new “Lean & Green” movement is helping schools all around the nation incorporate vegetarian meals and more vegetables into school lunches. Creating an event similar to the popular television show top chef, Laredo independent school district (98.9% Latino) is holding its own top chef event through the support of The Humane Society of the … Read more

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SA! Change Healthy Kingsport Initiative Keeps Kids Healthy & Hydrated

Alan Levine, president and CEO of Mountain States Health Alliance; and Bart Hove, president and CEO of Wellmont Health System, show off the new water bottles with students of Andrew Jackson Elementary School. (Photo Source: Matthew Carroll)

Sullivan County, Tennessee

TimeNews  recently reported about how water bottles, hydrations stations, morning miles and a new playground are all a part of a bigger movement to get kids healthy in Sullivan County, Tenn where over 72.9% of adults are overweight or obese. A new campaign that works with the schools is taking root and helping to bring clean and easily … Read more

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SA! Change CDC Releases First-ever Early Care and Education (ECE) State Indicator Report

Latino Health ECE breastfeeding physical activity policy intervention

United States

One of four U.S. kids is already overweight or obese by age 2-5, with a higher prevalence among Latino kids (30%) than white kids (21%). This is a problem because children aren’t “outgrowing” overweight and obesty. Children who are overweight when they enter kindergarten are four times more likely to be obese in 8th grade compared to … Read more

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SA! Change Morning Physical Activity Boosts Academic Success in San Fernando School

my school in motion

San Fernando, California

Physical activity is linked with academic achievement; however, Latino schools and neighborhoods often have fewer opportunities for kids to be active. Many Latino schools across the country are trying to get students more active to improve student performance and reduce health disparities. Kids who receive physical education (PE) in school are more active outside of school, according to the … Read more

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SA! Resource 10+ Research Projects About the Positive Impact Physical Activity has on Academic Performance

Latino Health, Physical Activity, Academic performance

PHIT America shares 10+ Research Projects on how physical activity improves academic performance. University of Illinois – “Physically Fit Kids Have Beefier Brains” University of Illinois Urbana – “How Exercise Can Boost Young Brains” Dartmouth – “12 minutes of exercise improves attention and reading comprehension” Purdue University – “Kids working out get better grades” Medical University of South … Read more

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SA! Change Elementary School Makes More Time for Recess And Physical Activity

Members of the Rangerville Elementary Running Rattlers Club run alongside professional marathon runner Catherine Cavazos. Source:

San Benito Consolidated Independent School District, Texas

We all know that healthy students learn better, but what can schools do to help? Rangerville Elementary School in San Benito Consolidated Independent School District in San Benito, TX (90.7% Latino), decreased the amount of time kids spend sitting at their desks and increased the amount of time kids spend being physically active by providing more time … Read more

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SA! Resource 29 New Digital Tools to Expand Access to Jobs, Schools, Affordable Housing, & Other Resources

Latino Health Digital Technology Data Tool

In March 2016, President Barack Obama launched the Opportunity Project calling for technologists, local governments, and community groups to harness technology and innovation to expand access to opportunity for all Americans (17.6% Latino). The result? Non-profits, companies, and students built 29 new digital tools-during an 8-week software development sprint-using federal and local data to help communities … Read more

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SA! Change Farm-to-School Efforts Grow in Minnesota Schools

Kids at a table in a primary school cafeteria look to camera. (Istock)


Since 2012, Minnesota (5.2% Latino) school districts have been working to expand farm-to-school fresh food options within school lunches, buying local fresh fruits and vegetables and serving up whole-grain fresh bread. Over 27 kitchens within the state now offer fresh, cooked from scratch meals, Bertrand Weber, Minneapolis Public Schools Nutrition director explained to the StarTribune. … Read more

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SA! Change Making “Smarter Lunchrooms” to Encourage Healthy Eating

Michelle Obama sits with winners of 2016 Kids' Healthy Lunchtime Challenge in the East Room of the White House / AP (source


In working on reducing food waste since new rules went into effect in 2012, School Lunch Advisory Councils (SLACs) are now asking students to help other students eat healthier. SLACS, which are composed of a food service director, an educator, and two or three students, are using behavioral economics like encouraging students to nudge or … Read more

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SA! Resource Celebrate National Farm to School Month!

(Photo source:

Get ready to get excited about healthy school food by celebrating national farm-to-school month! Every October farmers, families, students, educators and food enthusiasts of all ages celebrate healthy school food and raise awareness about improving child nutrition for all kids in all schools through farm-to-school programs. Our farm-to-school Salud Heroes have helped schools incorporate healthy … Read more

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SA! Change Owatonna Public Schools Celebrate Farm-to-School Month with Healthy Lunch Options

Students check out healthier school lunches from Owatonna Public Schools. (Photo source: Anderson from People's Press)

Owatonna Public School District, Minnesota

Owatonna Public Schools in Steele County Minnesota (7.5% Latino) are celebrating National Farm to School month this October by continuing to implement healthy changes in school lunches. Since 2014 the district has been working with local vendors as much as possible, after receiving $100,000 in grants from Blue Cross Blue Sheild of Minnesota and the … Read more

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Public Hub Hub Tree: Salud America!

Salud America! is a national online network of researchers, community group leaders, decision-makers, and members of the public working together to support healthy policy and environmental changes that can help reverse obesity among Latino children.

The network, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is a project of the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Policies, comments, external links, and contributed stories and images are not affiliated with Salud America!, RWJF, or The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, nor do they necessarily reflect the views of or endorsement by these organizations.

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