Two years ago, Loudoun County Public Schools Supervisor of Health and Physical Education, Sheila Jones, announced that her department was awarded a $1.5 million dollar grant from the United States Department of Education to be applied over the next three years. As part of her announcement, she indicated that Liberty Elementary School was one of the models on which she wrote the grant and on which the award was based. What a wonderful compliment for all of our health and fitness efforts. Now, not only the school system, but the entire county will have the opportunity to be involved in the implementation of the health and fitness initiatives we have been encouraging.


    The objectives of Loudoun Living Smart include teaching the students about healthy, active lifestyles and giving them the skills to transition from physical education at school to a lifetime of wellness; and challenging them every day to make good decisions about nutrition and health enhancing behaviors. 


    Inspired by Loudoun Living Smart and in consideration of our past and continued commitment to healthy food and drink, we will continue to slowly and surely educate the children how to make their own healthy choices. Meanwhile, we are asking the teachers and the parents to provide our students with encouragement and support. It would also be wonderful if all the adults in their lives could serve as good models for a healthy lifestyle. As many of our fellow county schools and families join us in this truly important educational endeavor, we ask that you please keep in mind some critical nutrition information.


    First, the contents on a package are in order of the amount of that item in the product. If high fructose corn syrup is the first, second, or third ingredient in a product, more than 50% of the product contains corn syrup. We really do not want our children ingesting that much corn syrup. It is a main contributor to the concerns of childhood diabetes, childhood cardio vascular disease, and very possibly childhood attention disorders. It does not matter how many advertisement the Corn Growers Association uses to tell us the calories in high fructose corn syrup are the same as sugar…they are not. Sugar is a sweetener; high fructose corn syrup is a refined carbohydrate.

    Second, please be careful of trans fats. Fortunately, most good food manufacturing companies, and nearly all fast food restaurants have eliminated trans fats from their products. This is one less nutritional battle we will need to fight locally. That is very good news but it is still important to read labels to be sure a product is not a “throw back”.


    Third, bottled water…yes water. In his efforts to educate the students and the staff to reduce, reuse, recycle we encourage students to not bring in plastic store-bought water bottles, but instead bring in refillable water bottles.


    “What exactly does this mean for our school?” It means that we are going to continue the process of becoming a healthy school by eliminating high fructose corn syrup and trans fat products from our school. Our healthy snack guidelines mean that we will not be permitting cookies, candy, cupcakes, fruit rollups, packaged fruit snacks with corn syrup, and of course any soda Liberty ES for classroom parties. Why include fruit roll ups and packaged fruit snacks in this program? All you have to do is read the packaging to see how much of a “fruit treat made with real fruit and no preservatives” is actually made of corn syrup. For your research purposes, you should know there are over 20,000,000 internet sites devoted to childhood nutrition and obesity, and many of them reference corn syrup and trans fats. Let’s face it if Coke and Pepsi are “trying” beverages with sugar and McDonald’s and Nabisco are advertising “no trans fats” in their products, educators and parents need to know more!


    It is going to be a very exciting year for those who have long believed that diet, nutrition, and physical fitness are essential elements of health education. The Loudoun Living Smart program will include many elements of a widespread community program: after school activities offered through Parks and Recreation, collaboration with community organizations such as the World Golf Foundation, and support from regional professional athletic teams such as the Redskins and the Capitals. You will surely hear much more about all of this as the school system leads the way in what is expected to be a very impressive endeavor. For our part, we are making a true commitment to be among the leading schools that really educate and model healthy living.

    Please help us guide the children in accepting these good and healthy options. For parties children may continue to have chips, pretzels, popcorn, fresh fruit, fresh veggies, dips, cheese, crackers, and many other corn syrup free products. Most of these products no longer contain trans fats but be sure to check labels.


    As always, no nuts or nut products may be served at parties and children with severe food allergies of any kind should have personal snacks for such occasions in the school freezer.

    We also ask that you NOT bring any fast food products or soda into the school or cafeteria at any time.
    Please be sure to follow the implementation of the Loudoun Living Smart initiatives over the next year. With grant funds of $500,000 this year being applied to health and fitness, there should be some truly amazing opportunities and programs for Loudoun families.
    Thank you in advance for helping us make Liberty  the BEST school and our students the STARS of a future healthier America.
    *Thank you to Belmont Station for the above information!