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On Sept. 21 Penn became the first Ivy League university to join the collegiate branch of the Partnership for a Healthier America, which was founded in 2010 alongside First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign. (Courtesy of Bob Nichols/Creative Commons)

Penn institutionalized the health frenzy on Sept. 21 by becoming the first Ivy League university to join the Healthier Campus Initiative, the collegiate branch of the Partnership for a Healthier America.

The PHA was founded in 2010 alongside First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to ensure national youth health and to fight the obesity crisis. Thirty-seven other colleges and universities have already joined the Healthier Campus Initiative, including American University, George Washington University and the University of Arizona.

To participate in the Initiative, a university must commit to incorporating a set of objectives into daily university life for three years. The objectives are designed to make healthy food and nutrition and physical activity easy choices.

Objectives include offering a healthier food service, providing a subsidized or rental bicycle program and implementing a comprehensive and integrated wellness program on campus annually.

The Penn Business Services Division started working toward a healthier Penn Dining earlier this month by making nutritional information available online.

“What is exciting about this project is to see how many of the objectives have already been instituted at Penn, which underscores how much work we have already done to promote health and wellness,” Vice President for Business Services Marie Witt wrote in an email.

Departments already coordinating to work toward the initiative’s objectives include Business Services, Penn Recreation and Student Health Service, among others, with plans to expand participation to students.

“We’re looking at this as an opportunity to continue to work on things that students want us to work on and to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” said Ashlee Halbritte, health educator with Campus Health, SHS’s public health service.

The University has been working on joining the Healthier Campus Initiative since February 2015, but is still working out which objectives to tackle first.

“Business Services is pleased to be working with Student Health Service and its other campus partners on this important initiative,” Witt wrote. “It will focus attention on many of the activities in which we are already engaged, such as trayless dining, healthy food options and bike share, and will provide a framework for enhancing services in other areas to support health and wellness across campus.”

“This initiative is really unique because it forces several departments across the campus to work together,” Halbritter said. “We want, and more than encourage, students to get involved as we move forward with this new initiative.”

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