WASHINGTON — Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Sept. 1 awarded approximately $5.8 million in Team Nutrition Training Grants to 18 states to help children develop good nutrition and physical activity habits for healthier lifestyles. The funding, which ranges from $226,461 for Ohio to $350,000 for both South Dakota and Michigan, provides schools with nutrition education materials for children and parents as well as technical assistance for communities and school food service providers.

"Improving the overall health and well-being of America’s children is a top priority of the Obama administration as we work to confront the obesity epidemic that affects too many of our children," Mr. Vilsack said. "We must continue encouraging children to eat healthy and to engage in daily physical activity to help them stay healthy and strong and reduce their risks for obesity."

According to the U.S.D.A., the states receiving funds will provide training and technical assistance to food service staff in preparing more fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, and other healthier foods during the two-year grant period. The grants also support efforts to help schools reach out to parents, teachers, caregivers, and others to capitalize on the positive role-model potential they have for children.