Coordinated School Health

Coordinated School Health

Children are Mississippi's investment in the future. Unfortunately, obesity puts our children at risk for living shorter, less healthy lives. Mississippi has one of the highest percentages of overweight or at risk of becoming overweight children in the United States.

The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) restructured its organization in early 2004 to consolidate the school health resources under one office, the Office of Healthy Schools (OHS).

The OHS, supported by The Bower Foundation, began working toward the implementation of the Coordinated School Health Program in Mississippi's schools. After all, we believe a strong, coordinated effort can be a powerful tool toward improving both student health and academic achievement.

Since its creation, the office has made great strides in promoting healthy school environments through programs like the "Health is Academic" Initiative, case studies of school cafeteria nutrition, and the development of a wellness policy guide. Additionally, the office helped support the passage of the Mississippi Healthy Students Act in 2007, which requires public schools to provide physical activity and health education for K-12 students.

In addition to funding the OHS infrastructure, The Bower Foundation has provided funding for the following strategies and initiatives to support the implementation of coordinated school health programs.

  • John D. Bower School Health Network (Phases 1 and 2): 20 grants to provide in-depth preparation to 20 schools in 20 local school districts to implement the Coordinated School Health Program model
  • Start-Up Grants: 98 grants to establish a School Health Council, conduct a pre- and post-assessment to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the school's physical activity and nutrition environments, and implement at least one sustainable intervention
  • Early and Periodic Screening and Diagnosis Treatment (EPSDT) School Nurse Program (Phases I-IV): 53 EPSDT nurses to provide health screening for Medicaid-eligible students
  • Health in Action: Web-based lesson plans for physical and health education
  • Committed to Move Grants: 25 grants to provide curriculum, training and resources based on the Mississippi Standards for Physical Education to assist schools in implementing a quality physical education program
  • Five Star Foods Grants: 80 grants to purchase a sectionizer and slicer to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables by preparing attractive service lines focusing on healthful choices and improving child nutrition images, to implement one sustainable intervention, and to receive hands-on training from a nationally recognized school cafeteria chef
  • Nutrition Integrity Grants: 70 grants to replace fat fryers in 84 school kitchens with a Combination Oven Steamer, thereby making a substantial difference in the number of calories and fat eaten by children at school
  • School-Based Administrative Claiming: Software, training and technical assistance to over 100 participating school districts to claim Medicaid reimbursements
  • School Nurse Data Collection: Software to capture monthly data on school nurse performance and activities related to prevention of illness and disabilities
  • Vending Machine Financial Study: Assessment to determine the financial impact of vending machine changes in Mississippi middle/junior high and high schools (2005 and 2006)
  • Child and Youth Prevalence Overweight Survey: Survey to estimate the prevalence of overweight and at risk for becoming overweight among children in grades 1-8 in Mississippi (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011)