Keshena Primary earns USDA health award

<p>Good luck finding a candy bar at Keshena Primary School.</p><p>The school's battle for nutrition and wellness paid off Wednesday when officials received the silver award for the HealthierUS School Challenge, facilitated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Keshena Primary made history by being the first school on an American Indian reservation in the Midwest to receive the award.</p><p>In addition to a plaque and banner showcasing the school's status, Keshena Primary will also receive $1,000 to put toward its nutrition and fitness efforts.</p><p>The award is part of the USDA's Eat Smart, Play Hard campaign, which encourages nutritional excellence and continuous fitness. It is given to schools that provide nutritious meals with whole grains, fruits and vegetables; opportunities to be physically active; and learning venues about the importance of health eating.</p><p>Julie Mikkelson, USDA regional director of special nutrition programs, visited the school to present the award and observed students munching on celery sticks, the snack of the day, while reading in class. Keshena Primary recently received a renewed grant to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to all students three times a week outside school meals during the school year.</p><p>"I'm really impressed with what I've seen here," Mikkelson said to students and staff during the award ceremony. "You've created a healthy atmosphere for students to learn and grow."</p><p>Besides the fruit and vegetable grant, the school each week provides backpacks filled with nutritious food so students can continue eating healthy during the weekend. The school also set up an apple orchard and community garden in May that provide students with hands-on learning about where their food comes from.</p>

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By Lee Pulaski
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Only reservation school in Midwest to receive honor
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<p>To encourage fitness, the school has a walking club -- students do laps around the school after breakfast, monthly activities that require students to walk or run, and annual events such as the Pumpkin Run on Halloween and a Jingle Bell Walk in December.</p><p>"We walk around the neighborhoods (for the Jingle Bell Walk) ringing bells, and people are out on their porches cheering them on," principal Michelle Vraney said. "It's a lot of fun."</p><p>Consuming healthy food goes hand in hand with a proper education, Vraney said.</p><p>"Without healthy and nutritious foods both inside and outside the school day, students lack the ability to function," she said. "When we provide them with these healthier foods, it helps them to function better and be more successful in school."</p><p>Menominee Indian School District utilizes volunteer and reservation resources to make sure healthy opportunities are available to all of its schools.</p><p>On Wednesday, district officials presented Jerry Waukau and Scott Krueger of the Menominee Tribal Clinic with Community Partnership Awards for their efforts supporting the district's initiatives through its Wellness and Nutrition Committee, consisting of School Board members, school staff and area health experts.</p>
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