Novus International, Inc., a leading manufacturer of animal and human health and nutrition products, has teamed up with the Progressive Agriculture Foundation® (PAF) to educate children about healthy eating habits in an effort to help curb the growing obesity epidemic among children and adolescents. The organizations are working together to develop healthy lifestyle lessons that will be provided through the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program and will enable rural communities to find ways to have a healthier school lunch program for rural youth.
The pilot project is being made possible by a Healthy Lifestyle Challenge grant from Novus. The company will match up to $110,000 in contributions through the grant, meaning total funding for the project could reach $220,000. The grant will support five school-based safety and health day programs selected to receive resources that educate children about living a healthy lifestyle. Educational lessons will focus on the USDA food pyramid, the importance of eating healthy foods and the need to engage in physical activity. The same five communities selected during the pilot phase of the project will also hold health and nutrition symposiums that will discuss ways of providing healthier food choices for children in school cafeterias.
“Educating young individuals, and their parents, about leading healthy lifestyles at an early age is the first step in the fight to reduce childhood obesity,” explains Thad Simons, President and CEO of Novus International, Inc. “As children grow mentally and physically, it is important they have access to knowledge and resources that will help them develop healthy eating and lifestyle habits at an early age. From improving access to healthy food choices to getting children more physically active, we each have a responsibility to combat this growing epidemic.”
The program was developed in response to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which revealed that childhood obesity has more than tripled in the United States during the last 30 years. Studies indicate children who are overweight or obese are more likely than youth of a normal weight to become overweight or obese adults who have increased risks of developing health problems associated with the disease later in life, such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
“The Progressive Agriculture Foundation is extremely grateful to the leadership of Novus International, who not only recognize we’re facing a serious issue, but who are willing to help solve the problem,” says Randy Bernhardt, chief administrative officer and executive director of development for PAF. “Childhood obesity will only continue to spiral out of control if we stand back idly and don’t do anything about it. This is why we’re committed to doing everything in our power to reverse this trend.”
The Progressive Agriculture Foundation provides training and resources to help local community members conduct one-day safety and health educational programs that are age-appropriate, hands-on and fun for rural children and families. The Safety Day program has been in existence for 17 years and has grown to become the largest rural safety and health educational program in North America.
Novus International, Inc., creates Health through Nutrition products for livestock, pets and people. Novus has employees working in more than 90 countries, serving more than 3,000 customers worldwide. Based in St. Charles, Mo., Novus has facilities including corporate offices, research and development laboratories and manufacturing operations in more than 35 countries, as well as smaller offices with field staff in an additional 60 countries.
The Progressive Agriculture Safety Day program is the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North America and a program of the Progressive Agriculture Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to provide education and training to make farm, ranch and rural life safer and healthier for children and their communities. In 2008, PAF was awarded the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance National Charity Seal, demonstrating its commitment to accountability and ethical practices. Safety Day applications are due each July 15 for Safety Days that will be conducted the following calendar year.