2nd Grade Taste Testers In South Glen Falls, New YorkWed 26 Jan 2011
Story by Roberta Berg
As a second grade teacher I thought the only avenue to help institute changes in my districtís lunch menu was to educate the children about nutrition and how to make good food choices.
I could empower the children with knowledge but, I knew discussing healthy choices would only make a dent when children are tempted with less healthy options in the lunch line. Then, last June our district hired a new Food Service Manager, Mr. DeFrancisco. Little did I know then that in November we would begin our very own grassroots efforts at Tanglewood Elementary.
In September, Mr. DeFrancisco attended the New York School Nutrition Association Conference. This is when he started thinking about doing something educational, fun and healthy that would also involve the students. He turned to our cafeteria manager, Jeanie,for a recommendation about a teacher to collaborate with and Jeanie suggested me. Mr. DeFrancisco invited my class to work with him to help create healthier lunch menu items.
Knowing that the best way to get our message across as well as get the children interested in both the short and long term, we decided that my class would be healthy food taste testers. In November 2010 the children and I met with Mr. DeFrancisco and we started our dialogue by talking about the kinds of food the children like and donít like. We also emphasized the importance of the journey they were about to embark upon; the road to healthy eating.
I am fortunate enough to have family friends who are astronauts and in October, my class was following the mission preparations of one friend, Cady Coleman. Cady was preparing for a 5-6 month mission to the International Space Station. So, like astronauts, we created a patch for our mission. With our Mission Nutrition- Rm 14 patch proudly displayed on our chef hats and a clipboard holding our rating sheets, we were ready. Our first taste test was documented in our District newsletter. To read the newsletter and more about our event, please click here. To date, the children have tested a wide variety of foods that arenít typically on a school lunch menu including veggie burgers, hummus, and broccoli pizza to name a few. If a food is given an ďegg-cellentĒ rating, the chances are very good we will see it on the next monthís menu.
As an educator, Iím always looking for ways to incorporate other curriculum areas into an activity; so my students help promote the new lunch menu items by creating posters and writing advertisements to read as part of the morning announcements.One of the best parts is that we also help Mr. DeFrancisco think of new names for foods! Our veggie burger might turn out to be The Bulldog Burger after our districtís mascot.
In the future we hope to have our little taste testers conduct taste tests at least once a month. Iíve also suggested the possibility of once a week Taste Test Tuesdays. Students of a designated grade level will be given a free sample as they purchase a regular lunch. A rating slip will be available for the children to rate the food. My class will be in charge of tallying the results for Mr. DeFrancisco. We also hope in the spring weíll be able to plant some herbs in the courtyard. We know that garden fresh herbs will help make our lunch foods even tastier and keeping the children involved over the course of the entire school year will reinforce good eating habits.
Our mission is off to a great beginning and together we have much more we hope to do. Although we are starting out small, we know the possibilities are numerous. We always remember the astronaut motto given to my class; Reach for the Stars! Thank you, Jamie Oliver, for inspiring us to believe we can.
For more information and to follow us on our journey please visit us on our blog.
About the author: Mrs. Roberta Berg is a 2nd Grade Teacher at Tanglewood Elementary in South Glens Falls, NY
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