Summer Plans for Nutrition in the Schools

Summer Plans For Nutrition In The Schools

Thu 30 Jun 2011

Story by Jill Florin
 

Nutrition in the Schools is continuing to work hard for the change that is so desperately needed in this country. Beginning the endeavor in April 2010, it has just been one year and we are now 9 school districts strong.

Starting in Upper Dublin, Pennsylvania, Nutrition in the Schools has expanded to include eight other surrounding school districts focusing on the same goals: Better food and more nutrition education, especially in the early elementary school years.

Being that Upper Dublin is where my children attend school, most of the initial focus has been on that district. Although there has been much resistance from my district’s Food Service, we are still striving for significant changes for the fall of the 2011-2012 school year.

Chef Ann Cooper’s visited our district in April and reconfirmed that this change is needed desperately, and not only can it be done, but it should be done. With that in mind, the Upper Dublin School Board has committed to approving a new Wellness Policy by this fall that will focus on serving more whole grains, fruits and vegetables and eliminating specific ingredients that are mostly found in processed foods. The Wellness Policy also will address the integration of nutrition education into the elementary grades.

Even though it is summer, we are continuing the push to move ahead and plan for some big changes in the fall. Here are the top five proposed ideas:

1. A trial at the beginning of the school year with no flavored milk, to follow what many schools are now starting to do, which is to eliminate flavored milk as an option due to its high sugar content.

2. Instituting “recess before lunch” at all of the elementary schools, which has shown to have many benefits including more time to eat a lunch and an easier transition from lunch to the classroom.

3. Using the new USDA’s, colored foodplate as a way to teach kids what a “healthful” meal looks like. Teaching them to “eat a rainbow”at the elementary level, by color coding the “new freshly prepared foods” to the color of the component that it matches. The goal being to try and get as much nutrition on to a plate as possible. The end result is that kids will learn the components of a healthful plate. There will be laminated “colorful plate” signs at all of the schools as they enter the cafeteria.

4. Starting vegetable gardens at every school. One of the elementary schools started a garden this spring and we hope to have more schools implement this valuable resource next year.

5. Planning on approving meals that meet the new federal guidelines (increased whole grains, more fruits and vegetables) for the menu beginning in the fall, which means more cooking with fresh ingredients and less processed foods. This will be accomplished through a procedure which begins with the newly formed Nutrition Advisory Committee and includes monthly student taste tests.

The Nutrition in the Schools Website www.nutritionintheschools.org is also being used to share important articles and highlight some individuals who are helping to address the nutrition message in their own way. Recently we began “the Golden Apple Recognition Award”. This award is given to any student, teacher or Principal who has promoted better nutrition in some way. The individual or even the school will then be listed on the website and receive a certificate in honor of the accomplishment as well.

Although it has been a challenge at times, Nutrition in the Schools will continue to push for the changes needed to ensure the future health and wellbeing of the children, for we believe they are certainly worth the effort. If you are interested in joining our national team, please contact us here.

About the author: Jill Florin is the founder of Nutrition in the Schools based in Upper Dublin, Pennsylvania and one of our Food Revolution Heroes.

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