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UCHealth and 129 northern Colorado schools partner to promote healthy eating

UCHealth and northern Colorado schools partner to promote healthy eating
UCHealth and northern Colorado schools partner to promote healthy eating 02:35

Over 100 schools across 11 northern Colorado school districts are partnering with the state's largest medical provider to improve healthy eating habits. The "5210+ challenge" has helped kids learn healthy choices for many years.

"The earlier we can start building healthy habits it is easier to continue those throughout their lives," said Jioni Reliford, the physical education teacher at Jackson Elementary in Greeley. "Every February we have this challenge."

For the first time, some middle schools are also participating in the program. Students who complete the challenge can receive t-shirts and help qualify their school for cash prizes.

"It stands for five fruits and vegetables every day. Two hours or less of recreational screen time. One is one hour of activity every day. Zero is zero sugary drinks," Reliford said.

The plus sign in the challenge stands for kids getting at least nine hours of sleep and adults at least seven per night.

"It is cool to see them get excited about it. They come and say how many bottles of water they drank. It is cool to see," Reliford said. 

Students at Jackson Elementary can easily eat their daily needs of fruits and vegetables in the nutritious meals the school cafeteria offers.

"My favorite healthy food is grapes," said second grader Espy McAvoy. "You want to stay healthy and live a long life. So that is why we are learning about healthy food."

Recently the CDC announced a study which found half of children between the ages of 1 and 5 do not eat vegetables daily.

Reliford said his school, and others in northern Colorado, are engaging in the program as an effort to make sure children are choosing healthy lifestyles early.

"There is an increase in engagement with those principals," Reliford said. "If we can get them excited about taking care of their body, their heart and making healthy choices every day it is that much easier to continue throughout their lives."

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