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GW Answers Call From Partnership for a Healthier America for Healthier Campuses

GW Among First Cohort of Higher Education Institutions to Adopt Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines

November 17, 2014
For the George Washington University:
Kurtis Hiatt: 202-994-1849, [email protected] 
For the Partnership for a Healthier America:
Elly Spinweber: 202-842-9001, [email protected]
WASHINGTON—The George Washington University is among the first cohort of higher education institutions that has committed to enhancing health and wellness programming through the Partnership for a Healthier America’s (PHA) Healthy Campus Initiative. The initiative, which was introduced on Sunday during the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, encourages colleges and universities to create healthier environments for students by adopting guidelines around food and nutrition, physical activity and programming. 
“Many students make their own choices about diet and physical activity for the first time during college, and we can equip them with the tools and information to make the healthiest decisions possible,” said Kim Robien, associate professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at GW. “We are really excited to be working with the Partnership for a Healthier America in their efforts to curb rising obesity rates in the U.S. by enhancing health and wellness programming at GW.”
To participate in the Healthy Campus Initiative, GW signed a memorandum of understanding outlining the university’s commitment to implement 23 guidelines over the next three years. The guidelines were developed by a group of the nation’s leading nutrition, physical activity and campus wellness experts and are designed to help students develop healthy lifelong habits. Some of the guidelines GW will implement include:
Executing a local food procurement program that increases availability of local and sustainable foods on campus.
Offering nutrition assessments and counseling with a registered dietitian nutritionist.
Providing at least one, two-mile walking route on campus with distance markers at regular intervals.
Hosting a free monthly class that introduces students to new activities.
Offering non-academic cooking skills classes.
“Colleges and universities are in a unique position to help shape tomorrow’s leaders, whether they are teachers, coaches, policymakers, CEOs, moms or dads,” said PHA CEO Lawrence A. Soler. “We know that going to college is a time of change for many students—we also know that means it’s a time when new habits are formed. By creating healthier food and physical activity environments today, campuses and universities are encouraging healthier habits that will carry over into tomorrow.”
The initiative will complement the university’s ongoing efforts to create a healthier environment for its community. The university recently launched a Food Institute, which will be led by Kathleen Merrigan, former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and executive director of the Sustainability Collaborative. Additionally, in 2010, GW established the Urban Food Task Force, founded and chaired by Diane Robinson Knapp, which brings together faculty, students and staff with an interest in healthy eating, sustainable food production and food policy. Since its inception, the Urban Food Task Force has spearheaded events such as GW’s first-ever expo on research and education in food and nutrition, as well as a pop-up produce market that provided bags of local, seasonal produce to families from underserved communities. The Urban Food Task Force also recently debuted a series of instructional cooking videos for students, demonstrating how to make healthy meals with little time, money and space.
Additionally, GW earlier this year announced it would join the Real Food Challenge, a national student-led movement to provide local, sustainable and fair trade, or “real,” food to college students. Although GW Campus Dining’s food supply already boasts 9.6 percent real food, the university has pledged to procuring 20 percent real food by 2020. The university is the first D.C.-based higher education institution to make the Real Food Campus Commitment.
In the heart of the nation's capital with additional programs in Virginia, the George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. The university offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study, as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and more than 130 countries.
The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is devoted to working with the private sector to ensure the health of our nation’s youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis. In 2010, PHA was created in conjunction with – but independent from – First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! effort. PHA is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that is led by some of the nation’s most respected health and childhood obesity experts. PHA brings together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity. Most important, PHA ensures that commitments made are commitments kept by working with unbiased, third parties to monitor and publicly report on the progress our partners are making. For more information about PHA, please visit and follow PHA on Twitter @PHAnews.