IMOVE, currently in nine middle schools throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire, reaches more than 8,000 children everyday with healthy meal options and the IMOVE mantra to "Choose Health." An incentive-based program, children earn points for making healthy food choices in their school cafeteria, according to the ID Top 50 distributorship. The healthier they eat the more points they earn, the more points they earn the greater the reward.
Recently, with the help of the Boston Red Sox team and especially its right fielder, Gabe Kapler, the IMOVE program finished this school year with a bang. In a crowd of 36,000, the three top performing IMOVE schools were recognized during the Red Sox pre-game ceremonies last month when the Red Sox played and defeated the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
The schools were chosen based upon their level of participation in the IMOVE program and the top three were allowed to send a student to represent their school on the field. The schools represented included Keith Middle School, New Bedford, MA, Stacy Middle School, Milford, MA and the Charles Pierce Middle School, Milton, MA. Each of the students won the day at Fenway by participating in an IMOVE raffle in which the students earned chances to win every time they made a healthy food choice.
"The Red Sox have been a great help in promoting health in the IMOVE schools," said Mike Scuderi, marketing director for the distributorship. "Gabe Kapler of the Boston Red Sox graciously agreed to visit the top performing school and donated signed baseballs to be included as part of the incentive program to eat healthy."
The Red Sox provided other incentives such as game tickets and a visit from the Red Sox Mascot, Wally.
Prior to the game, Kapler visited the Keith Middle School in New Bedford and spoke to 400 eighth graders about the importance of eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle. Alice Boswell, foodservice manager, remarked, "Gabe was great" and that it was a proud day for the City of New Bedford. New Bedford was the top performing school out of the nine that participated this year, according to Scuderi.
Also on the field at Fenway was State Rep. Peter Koutoujian, House chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Health. Koutoujian has been working with the foodservice industry to bring healthier foods to schools throughout Massachusetts. He is also the producer of a new cable show, "Health on the Hill," whose goal is to inform viewers about health issues in the Legislature and is based on Koutoujian's newsletter of the same name.
Scuderi said IMOVE looks to expand to 15 schools in September. "The program continues to evolve as we learn more about what kids like and how to make them work within school food service operational requirements," said Scuderi. "IMOVE is a great program but it becomes a really fantastic program when it has the ongoing collaboration of the School Administrators working in conjunction with the School Food Service. We simply have to keep in mind that it's all about the Kids."