By Staff Sgt. Joel SalgadoAugust 29, 2012
HEIDELBERG, Germany (Aug. 29, 2012) -- U.S. Army Europe kicked off a new campaign to help members of the Army in Europe community to eat healthier with a visit from USAREUR commander Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling to the Patrick Henry Village Elementary School here, Aug. 28.
The general's visit marked the official start of the "Fueling the Future" program designed to promote nutrition and wellness among school-aged children and help them to carry that message to their families and communities.
Hertling has a master's degree in physical education, and has long been known as a champion of nutrition and fitness. He said he thinks Fueling The Future is important because it will help children learn to develop a healthy lifestyle.
During the school visit, Hertling and his wife Sue talked to students about the objectives of the program and the values of making healthy choices and participating in regular physical activities. Sue, a fitness instructor, led the students in indoor exercises before they joined the general for a few laps around the school track. A special nutrition guide was handed out to parents, teachers and pupils, along with healthy snacks provided by the Heidelberg commissary.
Nicole Leth, a public health volunteer helping to lead the effort here, said the program should pay off by improving students' wellness.
"Research has shown that increasing the amount of nutrition and physical activity education children receive can improve their intake of healthy foods, increase their physical activity levels, and improve their performance in school," said Leth.
But the ultimate goal, Leth added, is to spread the word to all members of the Army in Europe. To aid that effort she is working alongside a variety of agencies whose goal is to promote the value of good nutrition and physical activity and involve the whole community in efforts to help people eat better and get more exercise.
One example of related community involvement comes from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Europe Region, which operates the school lunch programs at Department of Defense Dependent Schools across the theater. This month AAFES Europe announced it will make changes to school lunch menus to make them more nutritious.
The "Fueling The Future" program rounds out the USAREUR "Fueling The Team" program, a parallel initiative which began just over a year ago and aims to get Soldiers to eat healthier and make healthy lifestyle choices, to improve their overall fitness and performance. That program is an extension of the Soldier Fueling Initiative started by Hertling during his tenure as deputy commander of the Army Training and Doctrine Command to improve nutrition at basic training units.