March 25, 2019
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St. James School receives prestigious, national award for commitment to good nutrition and physical education

Community Author: Dave Guthro, Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland
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BIDDEFORD—In the community, St. James School is known for developing young people who strive to excel in the classroom and understand the importance of living lives of purpose and integrity, like Gracie Martin, a St. James alum who, earlier this month, committed to playing basketball in college at Harvard University.

But another clear focus of the school has been creating an environment that not only encourages academic achievement and service, but also promotes healthy eating and living.

In recognition of their efforts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has named St. James School the recipient of the Silver Award in the “HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms” competition.

“St. James joins a select group of only about 7% of schools throughout the U.S. that are certified at this HealthierUS level,” said Kurt Messner, the regional administrator for the USDA. “In recognition of this incredible accomplishment, the school will receive a banner and plaque as well as $1,000 for its food service account.”

The “HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms” competition is a certification initiative recognizing schools that have created healthier school environments through the promotion of nutrition and physical activity.

“I am so proud of our students, teachers, and staff for their commitment to our healthy school environment,” said Nancy Naimey, principal of St. James. “We strive for 100% whole grain items, most items are homemade, and desserts are healthy choices. Physical exercise is encouraged with K-5 having two physical education classes a week. Recess is still offered to middle school students and two recesses are offered to the younger grades. We have found that a healthy lunch and more physical activity helps students to focus. Teachers are also involved in exercise together after school. There is a healthy focus everywhere.”

“In providing healthy foods, we know that we are enhancing the students understanding of good nutritional habits,” said Yvette Tremblay, food services director at St. James. “A full salad bar and fruit bar can be found in our cafeteria to teach the children about the importance of a balanced meal. They learn to make good choices.”

St. James School has been honored in the past for its promotion of healthy living. In 2014, it became one of the first Maine schools to receive the “Let’s GO! 5210 Gold School of Distinction Award.” For more information about the school, visit its website at or call (207) 282-4084.