Statewide Program to Promote Healthy Lifestyle for Schools, Students and Communities

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Illinois Department of Human Services are teaming up to challenge Illinois principals and school communities statewide to 'Move' and 'Crunch' towards a healthier lifestyle. The Move & Crunch Challenge for Principals is a new initiative aimed at helping schools create a healthy environment for students. So far, more than 20 elementary schools have signed-up to participate.

"This is an exciting new program that can help build a stronger community within your school by involving students, parents, faculty and staff," said State Superintendent Christopher A. Koch. "This is another opportunity for teachers and administrators to set a good example for students by becoming wellness role models."

The innovative new program promotes student health by having elementary school principals take the lead and be wellness role models. Principals from elementary schools participating in the Move & Crunch Challenge log the number of days they meet physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption recommendations. The hope is for principals to get school staff, students and parents involved in this friendly competition for at least one week in March.

"The Move and Crunch Challenge is making fitness and nutrition fun and that is how it should be," said Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D. "By offering creative options to healthy eating, schools are helping young people meet the goals of the Fruit and Veggie*More Matters campaign, which emphasizes that every step taken towards eating more fruits and veggies and getting more physical activity helps families be at their best."

Challenge schools with the top scores for participation and planned support activities will be awarded an $800 grant that can be used to purchase wellness curriculum and educational materials with a nutrition component. Winning schools will be named in three school size categories based on student enrollment. Though not eligible to compete, principals from middle schools and high schools in the state are also encouraged to participate.

The Illinois Nutrition Education and Training Program (Illinois NET) in partnership with ISBE, DHS and the Illinois Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance developed the Move & Crunch Challenge program.

All participating elementary schools must be a federal Team Nutrition School to compete in the challenge. Team Nutrition is an initiative of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to support the Child Nutrition Programs through training and technical assistance for foodservice, nutrition education for children and their caregivers, and school and community support for healthy eating and physical activity. The challenge is funded through a USDA Team Nutrition grant.

The USDA offers these healthy eating and exercise tips for families:

  • Vary your veggies.
  • Focus on fruits.
  • Set up a home gym.
  • Make time for physical activity each day.
  • Go lean with protein.
  • Eat calcium-rich foods.

More information, including registration information for schools, is available online at

More information about becoming a Team Nutrition school is available online at

More information about the Fruits & Veggies*More Matters is available online at