California Launches Program Created By Jackson Bill To Encourage Healthy Eating And Exercise After School

March 07, 2016

SACRAMENTO – As a result of a law authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), California has just launched the state’s first recognition program to encourage healthy eating and exercise in after school programs.

Applications from after school programs are now being accepted by the California Department of Education for the California Distinguished After School Health (DASH) recognition program, created by Jackson’s Senate Bill 949, which was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2014. The DASH program sets voluntary standards for exercise and the serving of healthy food and drinks and limits computer and television “screen time” for after school programs.

After school programs that apply and meet these voluntary standards will be awarded a special “DASH” certification. Once the DASH recipients are chosen, a list will be accessible to parents on the California Department of Education’s website, likely sometime this summer.

“It’s terrific that the DASH program is now underway,” Jackson said. “DASH is about recognizing those after school programs that are making the voluntary yet vitally important effort to make children’s health a priority. Good eating and exercise habits, when established early, help prevent childhood obesity and help lead to a lifetime of good health. The DASH program will also provide parents with important information about after school programs so they can make the best and most informed choices for their children’s care.”

“As a former teacher and coach, I’m excited to see schools and community partners working together to offer students great after school programs with plenty of exercise and healthy nutrition options. We know that students who exercise and eat well do better in class and develop healthy habits for life,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

“Obesity and diabetes are on the rise throughout the country and millennials are the first generation expected to live shorter lives than their parents. At the Y, we know we can reverse this alarming trend. The State Alliance of YMCAs sponsored Senator Jackson's SB 949 in order to incentivize after school programs to promote healthy habits and establish a lifestyle of healthy eating and physical activity at an early age. The YMCA is grateful to Senator Jackson for her leadership on these issues,” said Sal Cisneros, President and CEO of the Channel Islands YMCA.

In order to be DASH-certified, after school programs must limit screen time, serve fruits or vegetables as a snack daily; serve no fried foods, candy, sugary, high-sodium foods or foods with transfats. Preference is given for the serving of water, but limited quantities of non-fat, low-fat milk or 100 percent fruit juice are allowed. The program also requires 30 minutes to an hour of exercise a day and staff training on healthy eating and physical activity standards.

In California, one out of three children is obese or overweight. There are more than 4,400 publicly funded after school programs in California serving more than 1.5 million children.

After school programs wanting to apply for the recognition must complete their applications by April 8, 2016. Applications are available on the California Department of Education website.