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Wellmark Foundation grant funds awarded to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation

Grant, chosen from over 130 requests, will allow ten additional schools in Iowa to enroll in the existing Meet the Challenge! Program

March 4, 2013

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(Des Moines, Ia) – The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, working with the Iowa Department of Education, has received a $19,992 grant from the Wellmark Foundation to build upon the existing Meet the Challenge! Improving School Wellness Policies throughout Iowa program by reaching ten additional schools. Funding will allow registered dietitians to help assess school environments and wellness policies and assist the schools in implementing a wellness plan to improve health policies.

Meet the Challenge! Improving School Wellness Policies throughout Iowa
The ultimate goal of the Meet the Challenge! project is the successful submission of school applications to achieve one of USDA’s prestigious HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) awards, which reflect school wellness policy enhancements including school lunch and breakfast offerings, competitive foods sold, vending policies, minutes of physical activity/physical education, and nutrition education.

Registered Dietitian (RD) Coaches in each school will lead interactive school wellness council meetings to assess the school wellness environment, create an action plan, suggest necessary changes in the school breakfast and lunch menu, and policies related to vending, fund-raisers, competitive foods, nutrition education, and physical activity to align with HUSSC criteria. The RD Coaches will meet with the school district foodservice director on an ongoing basis about the menu analysis, suggestions to align with the HUSSC criteria, and to assist with completing HUSSC applications. 

“This unique partnership enables registered dietitians to do what we do best – make a real difference in nutrition, wellness and fitness, especially among children,” says registered dietitian Diane Heller, chair of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. “Meet the Challenge! is an important part of the Academy Foundation’s  Kids Eat Right initiative, which is dedicated to supporting the efforts of the White House to end the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation. Thanks to the Wellmark Foundation, we look forward to expanding our partnership with the Iowa Department of Education, extending the reach of Meet the Challenge! in Iowa and enhancing the wellness of school children throughout the state.”

Grant one of only ten selected
The Wellmark Foundation is a non-profit foundation that seeks to improve the health of Iowans, South Dakotans and their communities. Through its 2012 Healthy Communities Grant Program, the Foundation received 135 grant requests seeking support for smaller community health projects. This grant award to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation represents one of ten competitively awarded grants to establish pilot efforts or expand health initiatives throughout Iowa and South Dakota.

The Wellmark Foundation is proud to award a cumulative total of over $190,000 to these ten grant recipients to serve as catalyst funding for local health projects.

“We are pleased to help grow the Meet the Challenge! Program,” says Matt McGarvey, director of the Wellmark Foundation. “March is National Nutrition Month, and the Academy of Nutrition and Iowa Department of Education are making a positive impact on the educational environment where children spend a great deal of their time. Learning healthy behaviors at a young age will benefit these students for a lifetime.”

About Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation is a 501(c)3 charity devoted exclusively to nutrition and dietetics. It funds scholarships and awards, public awareness and research projects and Academy strategic initiatives, and is the largest provider of scholarships and awards in the field of dietetics. The Foundation’s mission is advancing public health and nutrition utilizing the expertise of registered dietitians. Visit the Academy Foundation at
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at

For more information on the Meet the Challenge! project, please send an email to For more information regarding the Wellmark Foundation and its grant programs, visit


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