ESU First Kansas School to Join Partnership for a Healthier America

May 19, 2016

As the next step in a campus-wide wellness program, Emporia State University is joining the Partnership for a Healthier America, which works with the private sector and PHA honorary chair First Lady Michelle Obama to make healthier choices easier, in a three-year commitment to adopt guidelines around food and nutrition, and physical activity and programming.

 “We are proud that Emporia State is the first institution in the state of Kansas to join this important partnership,” said Mike Wise, ESU director of recreation services. “We would like to be recognized as the ‘Healthiest Campus in Kansas.’”

ESU’s participation was announced today by PHA in Washington, D.C. With the addition of Hornet Nation, the PHA initiative will impact more than 1 million students, faculty and staff on campuses across 29 states.

Working with a group of the nation’s leading nutrition, physical activity and campus wellness experts, PHA has a set of guidelines to build healthier environments for college and university students. In trying to recognize the unique nature of each campus, colleges and universities choose which guidelines they want to complete upon joining the initiative, and have until the end of the three-year commitment to fully implement them. These guidelines were created to give credit for existing campus wellness efforts, as well as to challenge colleges and universities to do more.

Emporia State has agreed to implement guidelines over the next three years:

Food & Nutrition

  1. Provide healthier food and beverage service in campus – operated dining venues.
    • Offer at least one wellness meal during breakfast, lunch and dinner.
    • Offer at least five types of fruits, five types of vegetables and two 100% whole grain products at lunch and dinner.
    • Offer and identify as healthier at point of presentation at least three (3) desserts at both lunch and dinner (if served) that have ≤150 calories as served. If serving dessert, at least three options must have less than 150 calories and these lower-calorie options must be identified as healthier.
    • Identify food and beverage items using designated healthier food and beverage options using a healthy icon at the point of presentation.
    • Offer a plant-based food option at all food stations serving meat.
  2. Promote water consumption on campus offering free water in all dining venues and all educational/physical activity facilities. We will be working on a water awareness campaign this next year.

Already in place

  1. Implement sustainability program in campus food service by offering tray-less dining as the default system in at least 75 percent of dining venues
  2. Provide healthier vending options on campus by ensuring that a minimum of 50 percent of vending machines offer only healthier food and beverage products OR 50 percent of each vending machine content is healthier food and beverage products.
  3. Provide trained food and nutrition professionals on campus and offer personal nutrition assessments and counseling to all students.

Physical Activity & Movement

  1. Create a built environment that encourages healthier choices on campus:
    • Post signage requiring cars to stop for pedestrians at all designated or marked crosswalks on campus.
    • Offer a bicycle share/rental program and/or a subsidized bicycle purchase program for all students. 
    • Participate in a national bicycle or pedestrian recognition program (e.g., Bicycle Friendly University). 
  2. Encourage student physical activity/movement through facilities and programs on campus during the academic year.
    • Each month, offer at least one “how to” physical activity/movement class that introduces students to new activities free of charge.
    • Offer all incoming students fitness/recreation center orientation and one fitness assessment each year free of cost.
  3. Encourage outdoor physical activity/movement on campus.
    • Offer at least one (1) free, organized and facilitated, outdoor physical activity/ movement opportunity each week.

Already in place

  1. Provide marked walking routes on campus & make a route map available. Launched during National Walk@Lunch Day
  2. Offer at least 20 diverse recreation, physical activity/movement or competitive sports opportunities during each academic year. Provide at least one running/walking track that is open and available for use to individuals on campus and the community for at least three hours per day.
  3. Provide trained physical activity/movement professionals on campus.


  1. Offer non-academic cooking skills classes that are available to all students.

Already in place

  1. Implement an integrated, comprehensive wellness program for individuals on campus that is provided annually.
  2. Implement a program/policy that identifies students who may be food insecure and provides options on campus.

“Colleges and universities are in a unique position to help shape tomorrow’s leaders. The college years are a time when lifelong habits begin to form, and for many students, this is their first opportunity to make their own choices about food and lifestyle,” said PHA CEO Lawrence A. Soler. “By creating healthier food and physical activity environments today, campuses and universities are encouraging healthier habits that will carry into tomorrow and for decades to come.”

ESU’s Wise agrees. “We take pride in making sure that our students not only get a quality education in the classroom, but also gain important life skills outside the classroom. This enables them to lead happier, healthier and more productive lives.” 

For more information on PHA’s Healthier Campus Initiative, visit

For more information on Emporia State's wellness initiative, visit

Emporia State University is preparing students for lifelong learning, rewarding careers and adaptive leadership through 42 undergraduate and 27 graduate degrees in the School of Business, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Library and Information Management and The Teachers College.

The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is devoted to working with the private sector to ensure the health of our nation’s youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis. In 2010, PHA was created in conjunction with – but independent from – First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! effort. PHA is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that is led by some of the nation’s most respected health and childhood obesity experts. PHA brings together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity. Most important, PHA ensures that commitments made are commitments kept by working with unbiased, third parties to monitor and publicly report on the progress our partners are making. For more information about PHA, please visit and follow PHA on Twitter @PHAnews.

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