Pepperidge Farm And City Of Norwalk Partners Kick Off Year Of Project L.E.A.N.

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NORWALK, Conn., Oct. 22, 2014 – Today representatives from Pepperidge Farm, Inc., the State of Connecticut and the city of Norwalk, including Norwalk Hospital, Norwalk Health Department and Norwalk Public Schools, came together to kick off Project L.E.A.N. (Learning with Energy from Activity and Nutrition) for the 2014-2015 school year.

Project L.E.A.N. is an innovative program that aims to lower the childhood obesity rate through a breakfast and exercise programs, in-school nutrition classes and parent engagement events. The program currently focuses on Norwalk, where the childhood obesity rate exceeds the national average.

Now in its fifth year, Project L.E.A.N. has expanded to three additional elementary schools and now permanently integrated into the curriculums of five out of six Norwalk elementary schools (Jefferson, Kendall, Marvin, Brookside and Tracey Elementary Schools). Nearly 1,000 students currently participate in the program.

“As Project L.E.A.N. enters its fifth year, Pepperidge Farm is so grateful for the valuable partnerships with Norwalk Hospital, the City of Norwalk Health Department and the Norwalk Public School system that bring this program to life,” said Kim Ryan, Vice President of Human Resources for Pepperidge Farm. “With the support and dedication from the principals, teachers and parents, more than 1,000 Norwalk children are now making healthier choices, exercising more regularly and learning good habits that will help them lead long, healthy lives.”

Project L.E.A.N. is a model for public private partnerships with Pepperidge Farm, the City of Norwalk Health Department and Norwalk Hospital each delivering different components of the program. The program improves the overall health of students by teaching them life skills such as cooking and gardening and activities and exercises they can do easily and frequently.

At each school, Project L.E.A.N. programming includes a “Breakfast Boot Camp,” where children arrive at school early for 45 minutes of exercise followed by a healthy breakfast, in-school nutrition classes taught by a registered dietician from Norwalk Hospital’s Clinical Nutrition Department, and monthly parent engagement events, including cooking demonstrations, to ensure parent involvement in the program.

Project L.E.A.N. launched in 2009 with a three-year pilot program at Jefferson Elementary school. The three-year program was introduced to second graders and they participated as they progressed through third and fourth grade. Results of the pilot show the program works.

More than 90 percent of Project L.E.A.N. students are now aware of the risks caused by an unhealthy weight and know how to make good food choices. The students showed they understand they are in control of what they eat and that good nutrition and physical activity are essential to their health. In addition, almost 70 percent of Project L.E.A.N. students had a body mass index (BMI) in the healthy range, an important health indicator defined by the American Medical Association.

About Pepperidge Farm
Pepperidge Farm, Incorporated, based in Norwalk, Connecticut, is a leading provider of premium quality fresh bakery products, cookies, crackers, and frozen foods. Among the company’s most popular products are Milano® and Sausalito® cookies, Goldfish® crackers, frozen Puff Pastry, frozen garlic loaves and Texas toasts, and more than 50 varieties of fresh baked breads including Pepperidge Farm® Swirl, Farmhouse and Whole Grain and Ecce Panis® artisan breads. Pepperidge Farm was founded in Connecticut in 1937 by Margaret Rudkin, an entrepreneurial homemaker who began baking fresh bread for her allergy-afflicted son. Today, the company has eight bakeries and more than 4,000 employees. Pepperidge Farm has been part of Campbell Soup Company since 1961.

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