Officials Gather to Honor Bucks County Youth Center
Recipient of the HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Distinguished Award
It was an evening of celebration as 135 individuals gathered in the cafeteria of the Bucks County Youth Center on Monday, April 30 to honor Director Ted Rice, Deputy Director of Operations Jacqueline Froehlich and BCYC staff for their efforts to earn the HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Distinguished Award from the USDA. On hand to celebrate this recognition were Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, Honorable Jeffrey Finley, and members of the School Nutrition Association of Pennsylvania (SNAPa), Local Chapter 7, with which the Youth Center is affiliated. A group of special dignitaries included officials from the USDA and Pennsylvania Department of Education, Food and Nutrition Division.
The USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge is a voluntary certification initiative, established in 2004 to recognize those schools participating in the National School Lunch program that have created healthier school environments through the promotion of nutrition and physical activity. In 2010, it was incorporated into First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign in an effort to raise a healthier generation of children. It took Youth Center staff members approximately one year to go through the application process and about 8 months to implement the challenge requirements. The center adhered to specific food requirements, which included increasing the serving sizes of fruits and vegetables and providing certain fruits and vegetables each day. Staff members also increased the physical activity of its residents, provided nutrition education and promoted its innovative garden therapy program.
“It’s just a great night for the Youth Center,” Commissioner Loughery told the audience before joining his colleagues to present a proclamation to Mr. Paul Helm, husband of former SNAPa chapter president Katherine Helm, who passed away this past February. The evening’s festivities were dedicated to this esteemed SNAPa member and “true champion for school nutrition.”
In addition, the evening included the installation of the new School Nutrition Association of PA, local chapter 7 officers for 2012/2013. The new president is Jacqueline Froehlich, Deputy Director of Operations at the Bucks County Youth Center. President-Elect, Gerry Giarratana, Palisades School District Food Service Director, Secretary, Shirley Natali, Quakertown School District Food Service Manager and Treasurer, Patricia Ford, Quakertown School District Food Service Manager.
Deputy Director of Operations Jacqueline Froehlich, who emceed the 2-hour event, thanked her team that planned and implemented the Healthier US Challenge Gold Distinguished requirements with her that evening. Those individuals who were specifically honored and received a gold pin, from USDA were as follows, Ted Rice, Director, Jacqueline Froehlich, Deputy Director of Operations, Val Arocho, Cook and Master Gardener for the Youth Center, Shawna Morales, Service Wing, Karen Green, Cook, Michael Lapolla, Cook, Sharon Carnahan, Service Wing and Sherry Richards, Financial Manager. In addition to these individuals, Jacqueline also had a “team of experts” who assisted the facility in leading this healthy initiative. They included all Youth Center staff members and RSU residents, Health Department nursing staff, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Master Gardener Bonnie Oliver, Planning Commission/County Recycling Coordinator Art Feltes for their efforts in composting and water barrel education for the garden therapy program, education staff from Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22, including Art Teacher Joann Sutherland for decorating the facility with the residents for this event and theme meals served each month, Melissa Froehlich, Assistant Food Service Director for Upper Dublin School District for assisting in meeting the requirements for the award, Carol Gilbert Associates for staff development, Aramark Maintenance Service for assisting with garden preparation with county inmates from the Rehabilitation Center, Rook’s Family Farm, Vonda Cooke, Division Chef from the Department of Education and her staff and local SNAPa members, among many others.
During the awards portion of the evening, Dr. Janey Thornton, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, extended her congratulations, adding that of the 25 school challenges that have been received in Pennsylvania as a whole, the Youth Center is the first and only to earn gold with distinction. “[This award] shows that you had a leadership role in improving the health and physical well-being of the kids at this school,” Dr. Thornton said as she presented Deputy Director of Operations, Jacqueline Froehlich with a plaque. The Youth Center was also awarded $2,000 to continue on with its nutritional program.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, signed into law in 2010, has changed the way the USDA looks at childhood nutrition programs. “Never before have we seen this much attention placed on the importance of being healthy, being physically active and eating right,” Dr. Thornton noted. “More than 3,000 schools have joined the challenge and we’re proud of those at the Youth Center that have joined this roster.”
The Bucks County Youth Center, located in Doylestown, is a temporary holding facility of alleged and adjudicated delinquent juveniles between the ages of 11 and 17. The center employs 71 full-time and 20 per diem staff members, and currently houses 40 residents.