Heart Links, founded in 1993, is a project funded by the New York State Department of Health, Healthy Heart Program located at Stony Brook University in the Department of Family Medicine. Comprised of a team of dedicated Registered Dietitians and other public health professionals, the Heart Links staff focuses on recruiting school districts interested in improving the school food environment and working with key district personnel in achieving that goal. During the past 20 years, the percent of overweight children and adolescents more than tripled from 5% in 1976-1980 to 17% in 2004. Many factors affect a child's food preferences and eating habits including the home environment, media and marketing strategies. The latter has become much more of an issue as children are often the target of aggressive promotional activities by the food and beverage industry that influence both home, school and community environments. As a result, establishing healthier school environments and educating children about issues related to health and nutrition has become essential in the face of the increasing availabilty of high fat, high sugar and low nutrient foods.

Schools partnering with the Heart Links Project are on the forefront in dealing with the pediatric obesity epidemic and are choosing to become part of the. As the above numbers suggest, overweight and its related conditions are becoming evermore present in todays youth and impact a child's learning potential, self-esteem and short- and long-term health. Establishing educational programming and coordinated policy implementation that allow for the development of healthier eating habits among children is key to affecting change. Our website is full of information for any person, child or adult, who is interested in learning more and working toward change in their own community.
We invite you to share in the tools we have developed to do just that.

Nutrition curriculum
Youth advocacy
Classroom celebration
Classroom management strategies (the use of food as reward)
Vending options
A la carte items
Fundraising practices
Birthday parties