Food PrepOver the past few years, healthy eating advocates have focused on providing healthier choices in lunch rooms for Kentucky school children. As a result, Kentucky has been recognized as one of the nation's best in school nutrition. Kentucky schools have purged their cafeterias of deep fryers, vending machines offering poor snack choices, and sugary soft drinks and juices.

Actively involved in this campaign were Janet Tietyen, Associate Extension Professor in the Department of Nutrition & Food Science at UK, and Jackie Walters, Extension Associate, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Nutrition Education Program.  Both Tietyen and Walters served on a 2001 Task Force formed by then Lt. Governor Stephen L. Henry, M.D., which evolved into the "Growing Healthy Kids in Kentucky" initiative in 2002. Due in part to this conference and a school survey conducted by UK dietetics graduate students, Senate Bill 172 was passed. This Kentucky legislation restricts the types of foods served and sold at Kentucky public schools.

Walters currently serves as chair of Kentucky Action for Healthy Kids, the Kentucky chapter of national Action for Healthy Kids.  The chapter sponsors the schools venue of the Partnership for a Fit Kentucky. Over the last four years, Kentucky Action for Healthy Kids has been responsible for securing over $100,000 in grants through the national organization to improve nutrition and physical activity environment in Kentucky schools.  Regional coalitions have been established to work on the local level, and several county Extension agents have been instrumental in leadership in these local coalitions. 

"During the last year, strong partnerships were developed with the Kentucky Department of Education and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to provide training and technical support for assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation of policies and procedures affecting school nutrition, and physical activity environment," said Walters.

Cutting an AppleBy 2004, the Child Nutrition Act was amended to require each school district to develop a local wellness committee and healthful food serving policies by the 2006-07 school year.  One year later, the Healthy Weight Task Force was created by the School of Human Environmental Sciences (HES), and led by Drs. Janet S. Kurzynske and Janet L. Tietyen. The task force uses a socioecological (individual, intrapersonal, organizational, community, and public policy) model for determining where prevention and intervention can occur to foster societal, consumer-focused changes toward behaviors consistent with a healthy weight.

After years of working on improving the health of the Commonwealth's children, Kentucky is getting recognition on a national level.  A recent article in The Washington Post ( spoke about the public school systems efforts to phase out junk food and phase in healthy alternatives. "The work of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, Nutrition and Food Science graduate students, registered dietitians, and the Partnership for a Fit Kentucky with Kentucky Department for Public Health is coming to fruition," said Tietyen. "In the next decade, let's hope Kentucky children-and adults-are more easily able to maintain a healthy weight."

Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Extension improve the quality of individual and family life through education, research, and outreach.  Professionals in Family and Consumer Sciences Extension enable individuals and families to develop capacity for strengthening families and building community for an ever-changing society.