The Healthy Kids Learn Better Coalition is a statewide partnership of organizations and individuals working collectively to promote policies and programs that will reduce physical, social and emotional barriers to learning. Our goal is to build supportive funding, leadership and policies on the connections between health and education in order to keep kids safe, healthy, and ready to learn.

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Priorities for 2016 and Beyond

At our September coalition meeting, HKLB members agreed to focus on two top priorities for the remainder of 2016 and beyond.  They are:

  • Continuing to work to ensure that Oregon schools, districts, and state agencies work together to understand and address Chronic Absenteeism, to give all students a chance at success in school and in life, (see more at the Chief Education Office, here)  AND
  • Ensuring that Oregon’s implementation plan for the new federal education legislation, the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” prioritizes healthy students and healthy schools.    Read more about this issue in this article from our friends at the Healthy Schools Campaign. 

Our goal for both efforts is to work together, stay informed about the decision-making, and weigh in to ensure that health factors are prioritized!

PE In the News, Part 2

The folks who want to repeal or delay Oregon’s strong P.E. requirements have apparently been making the rounds to editorial boards, because there have been a couple editorials recently sharing their point of view.  As a counter-argument, Kasandra Griffin of Upstream Public Health wrote the following letter to the editor, which was published in the Oregonian on Sunday, September 4th:

In “State needs to loosen physical-education requirements on schools,” (Aug. 25), The Oregonian/OregonLive Editorial Board might as well have written, “Who cares whether Oregon students are healthy or academically successful, anyway?” Scientific evidence shows that physical education (PE) helps students perform better in their other subjects and also helps them be healthier in the short- and long-term.

What’s not to love?

PE instruction is particularly important for low-income kids, who are less likely to live in neighborhoods with safe and adequate parks and whose families can’t pay for them to learn about sports, fair play and team spirit through extracurricular activities.

Oregon’s law was passed in response to a shortsighted trend of schools cutting PE despite its many benefits. The law requires a modest average of 30 minutes per day of PE instruction for elementary school students, and 45 minutes for middle school students. The financial crisis hit right after the PE bill passed in 2007, causing massive education cuts, and the federal No Child Left Behind Act directed states to focus primarily on math and reading. Oregon schools understandably had a hard time expanding physical education under those conditions.

Now the economy has improved, teachers have been added back and new federal education legislation, the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” actually supports investing in healthy students. Now is the time to reaffirm our commitment to getting Oregon’s children healthy and active as part of every school day, not throw it out.

Kasandra Griffin

Southeast Portland

Griffin is policy manager for food and school health with Upstream Public Health

PE in the News

HKLB members worked hard in 2007 to pass HB 3141, requiring that all elementary and middle school students in Oregon get science-based minimum amounts of Physical Education instruction each week.  (Studies show that adequate daily physical activity helps kids perform better in other subjects and also be healthier and kids as later as adults — what’s not to love??)

Unfortunately, the bill was passed with a long implementation horizon — ten years! — and as the “due date” approaches, little progress has been made toward compliance with the law.

HKLB members, and the P.E. for All Kids (PEAK) Coalition will be working to ensure that all schools move toward compliance in 2017 and beyond.  Meanwhile, other voices want to remove the requirement that all kids get adequate P.E. instruction.  See here for an August 2016 article in the Portland Tribune to learn more.   Happily, Senate President Peter Courtney is on our side.  “Courtney said he is unwilling to compromise on the required number of minutes but could consider a phased-in approach to meeting the standard.”



Big News in School Wellness!

The USDA has finally released their final rule on School Wellness Policies, as directed by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was passed six years ago.

This final rule, along with three others relating to school nutrition, was released in late July, 2016.

The Healthy Kids Learn Better Coalition weighed in on the draft school wellness rules while they were open for public comment, in the spring of 2014. We supported the requirement that all schools have school wellness councils that are made of community members, e.g. parents, teachers, representatives of local health organizations, and so on. We also supported the requirement that there be a single point person for each school’s wellness policies, and also that schools report on their progress. Finally, we strongly supported the proposal that schools not allow marketing of foods that do not meet nutrition standards for what can be sold in campus.

We are pleased to report that all of those provisions made it into the final rule, *except* for a weakening of the reporting requirements, from every year to every three years.

We look forward to working with Oregon administrators and policy-makers to ensure good local implementation of this important new law.


School Wellness Rule summary:
“The final rule requires each local educational agency to establish minimum content requirements for the local school wellness policies, ensure stakeholder participation in the development and updates of such policies, and periodically assess and disclose to the public schools’ compliance with the local school wellness policies. These regulations are expected to result in local school wellness policies that strengthen the ability of a local educational agency to create a school nutrition environment that promotes students’ health, well-being, and ability to learn. In addition, these regulations will increase transparency for the public with regard to school wellness policies and contribute to integrity in the school nutrition program.”

Re. Marketing:

The final rule clarifies that in-school marketing of food and beverage items must meet competitive foods standards. See §210.30(c)(3).

Additionally, the final rule clarifies what is and is not subject to policies for food and beverage marketing in schools. See §210.30(c)(3).

For more information, see:

Civil Eats article: USDA Finalizes School Nutrition Rules: What You Need to Know

summary from CSPI about the junk food marketing piece
one page summary about just the school wellness rule from USDA
Federal Register, July 29, 2016

Oregon Safe Schools Summit, January 2017

Mark you calendars now for the Oregon Safe Schools Summit, January 5th, 6th and 7th, 2017, at Lewis & Clark College.

  • What do we need in order to support socially, physically and psychologically safe learning environments and communities for all LGBTQIA2S+ students and families in Oregon?
  • How does that vision fit with what is required legally at the State and National levels?
  • How can we leverage data (including determining what is currently available and what is needed) to advance LGBTQIA2S+ equity in Oregon schools?
  • How can we leverage the power of narrative by amplifying the lived experiences of LGBTQIA2S+ students and families?
  • Can the Summit result in producing data and/or other resources that can be used as tools for policy making and supporting accountability to policy?

For more information, to submit a workshop proposal, or to offer to join the planning committee, see:    http://www.oregonsafeschoolssummit.org/

Coalition wins $3.5 Million for Safe Routes to School!

PORTLAND, OR – On Thursday, May 19th, the For Every Kid Coalition, representing 89 coalition partners, 9 school districts, 5 cities, and thousands of parents, youth, and residents of all ages- spanning all three counties of our region- won an unprecedented investment in Safe Routes to School: $3.5 million.

The For Every Kid Coalition showed up in force at the Metro Council’s Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) meeting to continue to demand dedicated funding for safe routes to school programming and street safety projects. At this meeting, For Every Kid Coalition members and supporters surrounded the regional decision-makers with yellow “Invest in Safe Routes” signs as they voted on the Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP) & Regional Flexible Fund Allocation (RFFA), one of the only sources of funding in the region that significantly invests in making streets safe for people who walk and bike.

The final vote dedicated $3.5 million for Safe Routes to School, including $1.5 million for a regional Safe Routes to School program and $2 million for street improvements near Title 1 (or low-income) schools and trails. After a two-year campaign, the For Every Kid Coalition is thrilled to see this win!

Austin Hecker, a 10 year old from John Wetten Elementary in Gladstone, spoke about his route to school to JPACT prior to their deliberation and vote. “People who are driving are in a rush to get to work and us kids are small and hard to see. I want to be safe and I want my friends to be safe too. Please dedicate funding for safe streets for kids. ” Metro Councilor Sam Chase spoke up in support of dedicating money to Safe Routes to School in this funding package. “By investing in active transportation, we’re creating an economic strategy. By cutting funding for active transportation we’re fighting against our own economic and freight strategy. We need to protect and keep active transportation funding for the future of our region.”

After an hour and a half of deliberation JPACT voted in favor of the proposal that increases investments that provide safety for people walking, bicycling, and accessing transit, especially near schools. Regional leaders passed a funding package that invests: $1.5 million for Safe Routes to School education/encouragement programs, $2 million to make streets safe around Title 1 schools and plan regional trails, and $25.76 million for safe walking and biking street safety projects.

The For Every Kid Coalition is also happy to see that this policy seeks to take every opportunity to de-federalize the funding for Safe Routes to School projects, thus helping dollars go twice as far, and favors projects that create safe access to schools. This dedication to Safe Routes to School is unprecedented on the regional level. It is an important investment in making safe streets for kids and will significantly contribute to healthier, more active communities!


For More Information, contact:  Sarah Newsum at the Bicycle Transportation Alliance:  (971) 302-8012, sarahn@btaoregon.org

For Every Kid Coalition Calls for Action

PORTLAND, OR— Today, Thursday, February 18th, families, youth, and groups in the Metro area joined cities and school districts demanding $15 million to fund safe routes to school for every kid in the metro-area. At the Metro Council office building, from 7:30-8:30 a.m., families and supporters of the For Every Kid Coalition showed support for Safe Routes to School by providing testimony and delivering thousands of postcards to committee members supporting dedicated funding for Safe Routes to School. Submission of Public Comment was completed through thousands of post cards delivered on document rings to each member of the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT). These post cards show the thousands of supporters behind Safe Routes to School For Every Kid.

Supporters came from around the metro area to urge the Joint Policy Action Committee on Transportation to dedicate critical funding to fix the problems. Transit Safety Advocate Dr. Susan Kubota, Parent and Supporter Rachel Kimbrow, and Parkrose School District Board Member MaryLu Baetkey were all present to speak to the importance of a fully funded Safe Routes to School program.

Read more on the For Every Kid blog.


Speaker Tina Kotek still remembers HKLB!

In this December news clip about Oregon’s famous Farm to School and School Garden program, Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek talks about how it all started because she used to be part of the Healthy Kids Learn Better Coalition, and she sees the value of investing in our kids for a healthier future.

Oregon leads the nation in farm to school programs


School lunches really about the future of Oregon

Oregon is making progress at ensuring all kids are getting the nutrition they need in K-12 public schools, but there is still much room for improvement.

That’s the conclusion reached in Oregon’s Healthy School Food Report Card, released in October, 2015 by Upstream Public Health, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and the American Heart Association. The report was designed to help parents, school administrators and legislators understand where Oregon makes the grade in feeding better food to kids, and where we are still falling behind.

Providing kids with healthy and delicious food in school is critical for their success. Hunger and poor nutrition have a direct and negative impact on children’s ability to learn, and hunger contributes to Oregon’s persistent achievement gap. More than half of all Oregon students qualify for the federal free and reduced-price meal programs. In many cases, school meals provide the majority of the calories and nutrition a child receives each day.

See KOIN TV media coverage here: School lunches really about the future of Oregon

And see the original report here:  Oregon’s Healthy School Food Report Card

Turning our culture of punishment into a culture of prevention

The culture of punishment — starting in schools — is an important factor affecting today’s youth and tomorrow’s state and national budgets.  The Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, Georges Benjamin, MD, shared this video to explain the role the criminal justice system plays in our health and how California is leading the way in turning the culture of punishment into a culture of prevention.   Can Oregon follow suit?

With Health and Justice for All

HKLB Coalition Meetings

Date: 1st Tuesday of every month

Time: 2-4pm

Location: LeftBank Building:

240 North Broadway, Suite 209, Portland OR 97227