California after-school programs take a healthy turn with governor's signature

Sep 17, 2014

Students in the after-school program at San Luis Obispo County's Los Ranchos Elementary.
Credit Randol White

Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill Wednesday by local State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to create an after school program aimed at giving students healthier options.

It's called the California Distinguished After School Health recognition program—or DASH.

In order to be DASH certified, programs must limit "screen time"—the time spent looking at computers or television—and serve healthful foods daily, requiring fruits and vegetables, and banning foods with high sugar or sodium content.

Programs must also have 30 minutes to an hour of daily physical activity.

Senator Jackson says although childhood obesity numbers have dropped in recent years, they still remain high. She says after school programs represent an "enormous opportunity" for modeling good habits.

Jackson says she hopes to reach the 1.5 million children in publicly-funded after school programs, and as a result help reduce diseases that are "absolutely preventable with good habits with things like good eating good exercise and it will reduce health care costs later on which are a benefit to the individual and to society as a whole."

DASH certifications are valid for one year, and can be renewed each year if programs comply with the standards.

The program is entirely voluntary.