Jackson Praises More Than 100 After-School Programs That Are Making Healthy Eating and Exercise a Priority

October 27, 2017

SACRAMENTO- As a result of legislation authored by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to curb childhood obesity, the California Department of Education has just released the names of more than 100 additional California after-school programs that have received recognition for encouraging healthy eating and exercise.

This year, 103 after-school programs – including 20 in Oxnard -- have received certification through the state’s first recognition program to encourage healthy eating and exercise in after-school programs. The California Distinguished After School Health (DASH) recognition program, launched last year, was created by Jackson’s SB 949, 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 are awarded a special “DASH” certification. Last year, 187 after-school programs became DASH certified.

“It is terrific to see so many more after-school programs committed to healthy food and exercise in order to prevent and minimize the spread of childhood obesity,” said Jackson. “It is a fact that students who exercise and eat well do better in and outside of the classroom and develop healthy habits for life.”

In order for a school 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 food or foods with trans fats. The program also requires 30 minutes to an hour of exercise a day and staff training on healthy eating and physical activity standards. After school programs that earn the DASH-certification are listed on the California Department of Education website, so that parents can choose DASH-certified programs and more programs will be incentivized to participate.

“By providing students with nutritious food, clean drinking water, and regular exercise, these outstanding programs promote healthy behaviors that help our students come to school ready to learn and succeed,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “I thank all of the dedicated educators and community members who keep these programs strong and effective.”

 In 2018, the DASH program is set to expire. For this reason, Jackson authored SB 55 this year to extend the program by five years from January 1, 2018 to January 1, 2023. The bill stalled in the legislature, but Jackson hopes to continue to work on this issue in the new year.

“I am committed to pushing forth this legislation so this important program can continue,” said Jackson. “Our after-school programs must play a vital role in teaching healthy habits that will last a lifetime.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 12.5 million children between two to nineteen years old nationwide are obese. California spends more public and private money on obesity than any other state, an estimated $21 billion a year.

After school programs provide services to over 1.5 million children. Over 4,400 publicly funded after school programs exist in California.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.