Creating healthy, supportive learning environments delivers big return on investment

School Meals, SNAP & WIC

Every year, communities across the country come together during the first week of April to celebrate National Public Health Week and bring the importance of public health into focus. The American Public Health Association, the lead organizer of the campaign, works with its state, local and federal partners as well as nonprofit organizations to build healthier communities and heighten awareness of important public health issues. This year, April 1-7, we mark the observance by celebrating the value of prevention and the importance of well-supported public health systems in preventing disease, saving lives and curbing health spending.

Our campaign theme, “Public Health is ROI: Save Lives, Save Money,” sums up nicely what all of us who work in public health already know: If we want to be healthy and financially stable, as a nation, we must invest in prevention and take steps to avoid illness and poor health.

To achieve this goal, it is critical that we give our nation’s children the building blocks they need now to achieve good health as adults. Ending childhood hunger by improving access to federal nutrition programs and providing quality nutrition education in schools is a public health imperative that offers an extraordinary return on investment. Research recently conducted by Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign finds that on average, students who eat school breakfast score 17.5 percent higher on math tests and attend 1.5 more days of school than students who do not eat school breakfast. These students are also 20 percent more likely to graduate from high school, meaning they will earn on average $10,000 more each year than those who do not graduate.

We are encouraging every American to join APHA during National Public Health Week as we work to bring deserved recognition to the tremendous value of public health in our lives every day. Take a moment and make just one positive change a day that will help you live a healthier life. Read our tips — from small steps to big steps you can take — to promote good health in your home and community. Then help us spread the word about the power of public health and prevention.