This story is about P.S. 230, a Title I school located in the Kensington section of Brooklyn, New York. In 2011, three kindergarten students at P.S. 230 in Brooklyn learned how to read nutrition labels and spent lunch time discussing the amount of sugar in the chocolate milk served in the school cafeteria. Alison Brackman, their kindergarten teacher told the kids that just talking about it wasn’t going to change anything. Inspired by her words and empowered by her lessons on writing letters, Nathaniel and Rami were spurred to action and wrote letters to the school principal, assistant principal and school food service manager.
The timing was just right – the letters from the kids spurred the school to make change. The school now serves chocolate milk only at Friday lunch. The wellness committee is continuing to monitor milk consumption and discuss other ways to ensure calcium rich foods are included in the school food menu.
Inspired by Chefs Move to Schools, volunteer culinary professionals have joined P.S. 230’s wellness committee and are implementing simple and inexpensive food education programs in classrooms and the cafeteria. The program is modeled on a program developed by Food Network star and nutritionist Ellie Krieger for her daughter’s public school. Many New York City public schools already have salad bars in place, but kids don’t always participate or choose the fresh fruits and vegetables that are available. To showcase the vegetables, a chef volunteer selects an item, such as red bell peppers, and prepares a 10-minute lesson about different kinds of peppers. The lesson is delivered to each classroom by parents, and bite size tastes are provided in the cafeteria at lunch time. With the help of peer influence, nearly every student tasted a red pepper at lunch, and the volunteers received many requests for more. Parent volunteers felt like rock stars, and an observer might have thought they were handing out sugary treats, not red pepper slices. P.S. 230 began this program with the first grade class in the spring of 2012 and hope to reach all grades in the fall.
Working with parents, the Chef was able to secure a table at the year-end school fair. Two simple, hands-on games were designed to engage kids in making healthy food choices. The first game had kids use teaspoons to guess how much sugar was in a number of different drinks. The second had kids guess a single portion size of various snack foods. The local supermarket donated watermelon and anyone who participated in an activity got a free piece. Several hundred children participated in the program, staffed by parents and the volunteer chef.
The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge invited families to create an original lunchtime recipe that is healthy, affordable and delicious, and follows the nutritional guidelines of MyPlate. The winners were chosen by a panel of judges from the organizations that teamed up with Mrs. Obama on this initiative: Epicurious, the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture.
Focus areas include obesity prevention through nutrition and increased physical activity, conflict resolution, substance abuse prevention and emotional wellbeing.
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MEETING NOTES (task to connect Healthy Lives/Choices with the other six topic areas)
ENVIRONMENT – Healthy food grown in school gardens can be shared with local senior centers or food banks. Local and global environmental issues impact our health, e.g. water and air pollution. Genetically modified food spreads internationally through imports and exports. Using food (e.g. corn) to produce ethanol negatively impacts the ability to address world hunger.
ANIMALS – Just as we concern ourselves with quality nutrition for ourselves, we want the same for our pets. Walking dogs provides good physical activity. We want to preserve the health of our ocean life; overfishing and coral reef destruction can lead to a domino effect where extinction of food sources cause the demise of other species.
ELDERS – Are we ensuring quality of life for our seniors? What are their nutrition and physical activity requirements? From a global perspective, how are we honoring and preserving indigenous knowledge and practices that can be valuable resources to help us solve current problems.
SPECIAL NEEDS – Relating to a diverse group of people falls into the category of healthy relationships. Empathy and understanding are developed during service learning experiences. Connecting with educational institutions, governmental agencies and non-profit organizations in other countries expands our knowledge base as well as ideas for age-appropriate programs.
SOCIAL CHANGE / SAFE COMMUNITIES – Research toxic waste; ensure people are not living near those areas. Urban planning must include activities and parks for young people so that they have healthy choices for their free time. Human development curriculum provides young people with the knowledge and decision making skills necessary to become productive members of their communities. What can be done to ensure people have meaningful work — volunteering and internships as well as salaried positions?
HOMELESSNESS AND POVERTY – Ensure that populations at risk have the knowledge about and access to quality food, physical activity, and healthcare (physical and mental) Students can do research about topics such as obesity, diabetes, and substance abuse in order to advocative for healthy life choices. California’s farms depend on migrant farm workers, which is another population that may be at risk with respect to health and safety.
* Partner with a classroom in another country to study the same issue. Watch the same documentary and discuss it.
* Partner with medical and pharmacy schools in creating programs for local communities.
* Partner with State and County offices of HHR (Health and Human Resources)
* Create appealing posters, banners, bulletin boards for cafeteria walls
From “Facing the Future”
As you keep strengthening your students’ skills in critical and creative thinking, we’re here to support you. We’re offering a free monthly webinar on third Thursdays, starting October 18th, hosted by Dave Wilton, FTF’s fabulous Professional Development Manager.
The 45-minute webinars will focus on targeting the tactics and techniques that get students excited about achieving and integrating sustainability topics across grades and disciplines. Each one will feature interdisciplinary approaches to learning – language arts, social studies, and STEM subjects. Join us to explore climate change with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, green project-based learning with award-winning middle school science teacher and FTF Peer Educator, Naomi Harper, and best practices straight from-the-field with FTF Peer Educator Amanda Patrick of the US Forest Service, and more.
Our free webinars will connect academics to real-world issues, show connections to Common Core State Standards, provide the seeds to grow sustainability initiatives inside and outside your classroom, and give you the chance to ask questions and share ideas.
Sign-up now. Spaces are limited for this series of six monthly Third Thursday webinars. Once you sign up you’ll be sent reminders and links to archived materials. Don’t miss out!