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January/February 2006
A bi-monthly publication of the SPPS Healthy Grants team

The mission of the Healthy Grants team is to implement wellness programs designed to provide education, tools and resources to achieve healthy lifestyles among our students, staff and community.

Steps to a Healthier St. Paul —

Five Ways to Kick the Calendar of Events: Snack Attack!
1. Write it down. Keeping a journal of your snack habits can help you find ways to combat the snack attack. This will keep you in reality. You may be surprised to find out just how much snacking calories add up. Make a plan. Do you always get hungry at a certain time of day? Plan for your hunger pangs. Buy some healthy snacks to keep at work like little bags of nuts, pretzels or dried fruit. Spice it up. Try to avoid sweets at all costs. Most sweets are packed full of empty calories that contribute little for nutrition. Consuming a spicy snack can lessen your urge for sweets and keep your calories down. Pack a snack. Make a healthy snack at home and take it to work. This will help you avoid the temptation of buying junk food from the vending machine. Take a hike. When a snack attack hits, go for a quick walk. The physical activity may help take your mind off the craving, as well as burn some calories.
Source: “The Well Workplace,” Wellness Councils of America, December 2005

Steps Grant and the U of M Team Up to Promote Simply Good Eating at Humboldt Senior High School
Students in Jackie Skelly’s Health class at Humboldt High School are learning how to say no to super-sized fries and soda pop advertised by Beyoncè. They are learning the importance of good nutrition and maintaining a healthy body through lessons from the Simply Good Eating program from the University of Minnesota Extension Service. This year’s topic focuses on the new MyPyramid and it’s relevancy to proper daily nutrition. On this day at Humboldt, the theme is fruits and vegetables. Lynn Atkins, Nutrition Education Assistant, and Felisha Rhodes, Regional Extension Educator and Program Manager, from the U of M are talking about cancer research. They explain to the students how fruits and vegetables help build up the immune system. “We can’t guarantee that you will not get cancer if you eat fruits and vegetables,” says Rhodes, “but it will help.” They talk about whole fruits verses fruit juices. “Although fruit juices do contain vitamins, you need to eat the whole fruit to get the fiber,” says Atkins. “There is no fiber in the juice.” The nutrition program’s goal states that “programming efforts must lead to the development of positive nutrition related behavior change.” Successful program completion consists of presenting at least six weekly on-site nutrition lessons. The lessons are taught through hands-on experiential activities that build knowledge and skills, followed by an appropriate snack.


Lynn Atkins, Simply Good Eating, and Humboldt student Nicole Johnson demonstrate to the class how to make faux soda pop.


Skelly says she hears her students repeating the information learned in class and says they are trying to apply it to their daily lives. “The hands-on activities help,” she says. This session Atkins is demonstrating how to make faux soda pop with grape juice and carbonated water. She says this is a “healthier choice that tastes like soda pop, and has vitamins you would not get if you had pop.” Changing the way teens think about what they are eating is a tough task in today’s society of fast food, million-dollar soda pop advertising campaigns and fad diets. Are we reaching these students? The following is one testament to the nutrition program. “The Atkins diet isn’t healthy. You need to eat the right amounts of food and follow the food pyramid.”— Madison Corniea, Humboldt High School 10th grader. Humboldt, Harding and Como High Schools are just a few of the many schools taking part in the Simply Good Eating program this year, thanks to the Steps to a Healthier St. Paul grant. However, the program is no stranger to SPPS. The U of M has other funding that allows them to provide programming in many other schools at all levels throughout the district.



Walk to Key West— Don’t Be Left Behind!
Editor: Kathleen.Weyandt
Eager participants at Staff Wellness pilot sites and Steps to a Healthier St. Paul sites are on their way to sunny Key West, Florida! Staff at these sites have joined their colleagues and HealthPartners 10,000 Steps® program for the Walk to Key West competition. The challenge kicks off January 30 and continues for six weeks. Staff from these sites were invited to participate, form teams and travel to new cities (virtually, anyway). Each week teams are challenged to accumulate enough steps to reach the next destination on their journey. Staff will be “flying” into New York City on January 30. In the first week they will be walking from New York City to Washington D.C. then in subsequent weeks, on to Durham, N.C., Charleston S.C., Orlando, Fla., and then Miami to Key West. Each week team captains tally team step totals and move their team marker on the Walk to Key West map at their school or site. Prizes will be awarded throughout the six weeks. With the HealthPartners 10,000 Steps® program, participants can count on feeling great! By adding extra steps into their days, they will discover how much better they feel. Together, teammates are looking to boost energy, relieve stress, lose weight and feel great. Bon Voyage!!

Physical Education Program (PEP) Grant Kick-off Set

Staff Wellness Holiday Challenge
Staff Wellness pilot site employees accepted a Holiday Challenge this past season, choosing to experience the joy of the holidays without expanding their waistlines. A study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), suggests that extra weight gain during the holidays may accumulate through the years and can be a major contributor to obesity later in life. “These findings suggest that developing ways to avoid holiday weight gain may be extremely important for preventing obesity and the diseases associated with it,” says NICHD Director Duane Alexander, M.D. Participants of the challenge weighed in each Monday during the five-week challenge. The names of the participants who maintained or lost weight were entered into a drawing to win a $25 gift certificate. Those who were able to maintain their weight for the entire five-week challenge doubled their chances of winning by entering the drawing five additional times! Congratulations to the winners:
Regina Wehner, Rene Aultman, Karen Flowers, Jill Christopherson, Susan Russell, Susan Buckminster, Cindy Porter, Mary Engel, Kay Peterson, and Betty Anderson.

For February 6, 2006
The Saint Paul Public Schools PEP grant’s theme is “Fitness United with Nutrition”. After the February 6 kickoff, the program will begin targeting 4th grade students in the district. Students and families will be provided with fitness and nutrition concepts and activities both during and after school. PEP Grant Staff, Liz Parr-Smestad and Bob Wandberg, have been busy meeting the physical educators, fourthgrade teachers, principals and recreation center directors at the 24 sites involved with the grant this year. “This is a great way to fight off our national obesity crisis,” says Smestad, a physical education specialist. “We are eager to get going with the PEP grant!” The following is a list of the 24 sites starting with the grant this year: Farnsworth Elementary and Arlington Recreation Center; Roosevelt Elementary and Baker/ El Rio Recreation Center; Dayton’s Bluff Elementary and Recreation Center; Phalen Lake Elementary and Duluth and Case Recreation Center; World Cultures/American Indian Elementary and Margaret Recreation Center; Mississippi Elementary and McDonough Recreation Center; Monroe Elementary and Palace Recreation Center; Prosperity Elementary and Recreation Center; Jackson Elementary and Scheffer Recreation Center; North End Elementary and Sylvan Recreation Center; Homecroft Elementary and Recreation Center; and Wilder Elementary and Recreation Center. The PEP grant will involve these 24 sites with more than 1,200 students. This number will be doubled next year!

Diabetes Grant Update and BMI (Body Mass Index) Results
The BMI screening recently took place in four elementary schools as part of the “Managing and Preventing Diabetes & Weight Gain (MAP)” project funded by the Centers for Disease Control through the National Association of School Nurses. The CDC definition of overweight children is a BMI greater than or equal to the 95th percentile for age/sex. According to this definition, more than 28% of SPPS fourth graders in four schools are overweight. The prevalence of overweight in SPPS is significant when compared to U.S. data which states that 16% of children 6-19 years in the U.S. are overweight. In these four schools, another 15% are at risk of overweight (BMI from 85th to 94th percentiles). In all, more than 44% of SPPS students in these four schools are currently overweight or at risk of overweight.

Nutrition Services Expands Website Menu with Calorie Counter
Have you been thinking about losing a few pounds? Losing just 10 pounds can make a big difference in how you look and feel— and in your health. A small amount of weight loss is proven to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce your chances of developing diabetes and heart disease. You may be thinking, “How many calories do I need to lose weight?” Generally women lose weight at 1200-1500 calories a day and men at 1500-1800. Choosing about 500 calories at lunch is a good place to start. However, everyone’s energy needs are different, so it’s wise to talk to a dietitian or health care provider about your individual calorie goals. Your everyday choices— how active you are and how much you eat— will determine how successful you are with your weight loss efforts. If you are counting calories, the Nutrition Services website is the place to find out how many calories and fat grams are in each menu item. The website now offers complete nutrition information of the Elementary Schools lunch menu (Middle Schools and High Schools coming soon)! Go to and click on a menu option. The nutrition information will pop up. With the help of these menus you can now make lower calorie food choices that are satisfying. The choices are yours! Also available at— Keep track of your calories and amount of exercise per day on our weekly log.

Tired of Plain Steamed Broccoli?
Toss it with toasted sesame seeds, dried red pepper and toasted sesame oil.

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Toast 3 T. of sesame seeds in skillet over medium heat until golden. Grind 1/2 t. kosher salt and 1/2 t. dried crushed red pepper together. Toss steamed broccoli florets with 1 T. toasted sesame oil and the above ingredients.

Toss it with grated parmesan cheese and/or sliced black olives.

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Love Your Heart: Go Red For Women… On the American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day
February 3, 2006
Go Red for Women is the American Heart Association’s national call to increase awareness of heart disease— the leading cause of death for women— and to inspire women to take charge of their heart health. Women who understand the risks of heart disease, and know the steps to prevent it, are better equipped to avert serious— and mostly preventable— threat to their health. Put your hand on your own heart...and make your own promise to be heart healthy. Go red this Friday— a red dress, a red dress pin, a red sweater or carry a red handbag. For more information on women and heart disease go to

Steam broccoli and toss with sliced black olives. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper on top of the broccoli and serve.

Recipe courtesy of Jean Ronnei, Nutrition Services Director

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