Live Well Omaha Kids (LWOK)’s work to prevent childhood obesity is made possible by the many champions who are committed to improving children’s access to quality physical activity and nutrition.

Today we are spotlighting, Jessie Coffey, MS, RDN, LMNT, the Nebraska Healthy Schools coordinator for the Nebraska Department of Education.

Tell us about your current work with the Nebraska Healthy Schools Program.

The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) has been awarded a five year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to work collaboratively with schools and local health departments to improve the health of the state’s kindergarten through 12th grade students.

  • The work focuses on the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model (WSCC), an expansion of the Coordinated School Health approach to staff and student wellness supported by the Nebraska Department of Education.
  • This model emphasizes the relationship between educational attainment and health, by putting the child at the center of a systems designed to support a unified and collaborative approach that recognizes that healthy children learn better.
  • Targeted school district staff, Local Health Departments and community partners have been invited to attend trainings to work collaboratively with their districts to create action plans to support healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged students.
  • Work will focus on increasing skills among individuals trained to improve school health and implementing evidence based school health policies and practices among school staff and teams.

Long Term Outcomes:

  • Increase the number of individuals or teams who have are able to transfer school health skills into practice.
  • Increase the number of students who are physical activity and are eating five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

What led to your interest in public health/school wellness/physical education/nutrition?

As a registered dietitian, I had interest early in my career in working in the community setting to promote the health and nutrition of low-resource families.  I started out my professional career writing grants to provide supports and training for Schools, Local Health departments and community based organizations serving high need populations.  I have been able to continue that work over the past 18 years and have had the opportunity to work and learn from leaders in public health across all disciplines at the local, state and national levels,  These experiences have help form my vision for supporting children’s health and underscore the importance of effective collaborations that utilize the strength of community partners to reach a common goal.   

My food and fitness philosophy that I have adopted for myself and for others I work with are that all foods fit as part of a healthy diet with a focus on portion size and including lots of color in your diet.  I believe that physical activity choices should not only support physical health, but your mental health as well and encourage individuals to select activities that work for them and bring them joy.