Propelling A School Food Revolution!Thu 05 Dec 2013
Story by Justin Aglio
As a principal of a high school, I always ask myself, “What can we do as a school to help better the lives and futures of our students?” Of course, like all schools, we focus on math, literacy, the arts, and other critical content areas. But what about nutrition? On May 17, 2013, our school community decided to jump in with both feet and provide students with nutrition education and healthy food options.
On May 17, 2013, Pittsburgh, PA celebrated its 1st Food Revolution Day! Propel Braddock Hills High School wanted to be part of this movement, but first had to evaluate our current food offerings. We always had a school store that sold food such as candy, chips, pop tarts and other snacks, but the menu was specifically selected to make money to provide scholarships for seniors. Snacks were chosen based upon what students wanted, but we did not offer any consistent educational programs to help educate students about food and healthy choices. Also, students were rarely exposed to different cultural foods and hands-on cooking classes.
Our next step was to identify want we wanted to do. We came up with three goals:
1. Provide healthy food options to all students
2. Provide educational programs about nutrition
3. Expose students to a variety of cultural foods and incorporate hands-on cooking classes.
Goal 1: Provide healthy food options to all students
On Food Revolution Day, our school launched its newly-named school store called Propellers: Join the Revolution! The store was kicked off with a ribbon cutting that allowed students to experience a variety of new healthy snacks. Propellers now offers items like Sun Chips, granola bars, yogurt, trail mix, and other healthy snacks. The school store also offered 350 free smoothies that day through a partnership that we have with Adagio Health.
Goal 2: Provide educational programs about nutrition
Power Up, a program funded through the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed), participated in the “National Food Day” at Propel Braddock Hills High School. Power Up focused on healthy snacking by engaging 9-12th graders during their lunch hour. The students enjoyed a healthy snack of fresh guacamole served with whole grain tortilla chips. Power Up, Eat Right has been providing interactive, engaging lessons throughout Propel School District from Kindergarten through 12th grade at nine schools.
Goal 3: Expose students to a variety of cultural foods and incorporate hands-on cooking classes.
In August 2013, the school offered two ways of involving students in cooking. First, every student has the opportunity to take a hands-on cooking classes after school once a week, where they can not only hone their cooking skills but also learn about a variety of different cultures as well. Additionally, 20 students signed up for Cooking through a Themed Advisory selection process, similar to an elective course. Students across the entire school selected advisory activities based upon their interests. Student meet in these advisories every day. And once a month they meet for two hours to complete a project. In September, students from the cooking advisory cooked breakfast for themselves and teachers, giving the students an opportunity to show their knowledge and realize the benefits of cooking.
About the author: Justin Aglio serves as Co-Principal at Propel Braddock Hills High School, School of Innovation and Design, in Pittsburgh, PA. Justin has been internationally recognized for helping children and families and as a leader in educational reform.
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