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Rural Health Information Hub

Southern Vermont Area Health Education Center

  • Project Title: 30+5: Physical Activity and Nutrition at School
  • Grant Period: 2006-2009 FORHP Outreach Grantee
  • Program Representative Interviewed: Nancy Schaefer, 30+5 Coordinator/Health Educator
  • Intervention Setting: School
  • Program Overview: The Southern Vermont Area Health Education Center (AHEC) has been working to improve nutrition and physical activity within three schools across multiple communities. The AHEC began by targeting youth in the 6th-8th grade, but soon identified the need to work with children younger than middle school.

    The AHEC's initial work with the schools focused on building relationships, buy-in, and trust from community and school system members. It formed a planning committee consisting of school nurses, community members, public health, and hospital representatives. With the committee's guidance, the Southern Vermont AHEC implemented a program to improve nutrition and increase opportunities for physical activity in schools. The program worked with school cafeteria staff to set up a salad bar and water cooler and to increase the vegetable content of meals (including popular items such as pizza).

    To implement these initiatives, the AHEC staff focused on cost and identifying strategies the schools and teachers would be willing to implement, rather than on searching for evidence-based approaches. Ultimately, teachers said they needed exercise equipment children would use. After an initial equipment purchase, the program ensured equipment was being used before more was purchased.

Resources required for implementing program

  • Buy-in from school administrators and teachers
  • Exercise equipment for students