Creating a Culture of Wellness: El Monte City School District
The Clinton Foundation and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation continue to assist the El Monte City School District (EMCSD) in creating a “culture of wellness” with its school community. EMCSD has participated in the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program for the last five years. In this time, El Monte schools have earned multiple high-level recognition awards for our efforts to get students and staff eating better and moving more. EMCSD has made numerous positive changes as its leaders introduce innovative wellness programs for its students. New physical activity and PE goals have been developed and achieved. The nutrition department overhauled its school lunch menu and introduced kids to new foods and recipes. New meal offerings include whole grains, lean proteins, low fat entrées, limited a la carte foods, and more fresh fruits and vegetables. The El Monte CSD Wellness Policy Team meets regularly and revises its regulations to meet new Alliance standards as well as respond to the latest state and federal guidelines. The school nursing community continues to provide resources for its student community and recently received two grants to provide free dental care. All of these efforts work to create a “culture of wellness” in a community that faces the dual epidemics of childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes. EMCSD is proud of its many innovative nutrition education programs including Guest Chefs in the Classroom, All-District Nutrition Art Contest, Farmer in the Classroom, Safe Walk to School, Kids Get Cooking Summer Camp, Vegetable Fear Factor assemblies, and the Superintendent’s Wellness Essay Contest.
EMCSD’s collaborative leaders understand that there is a real connection between cognitive learning and healthy lifestyles. Parents, community leaders, teachers, administrators and students themselves have several opportunities to share their input in the formulation and implementation of the district’s and school sites’ wellness policies. Putting these healthful practices into place also lead EMCSD schools to earn fourteen silver medals in the Healthier US Schools Challenge sponsored by United States Department of Agriculture. Because of these recent wellness efforts and accolades, last October, all EMCSD schools were invited to the White House for a reception hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. El Monte CSD leaders will continue to work with the Clinton Foundation and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation as together they strive to implement new and improved student fitness strategies and community health goals in their efforts to create a “culture of wellness” serving our students of today and citizens of tomorrow.