12 Replies Latest reply on Jan 15, 2011 6:40 PM by holmesg

    Year of mystery meat: Blogger eats school lunch every day

      A forgotten lunch one day turned into part of a movement for national reform

      By Rebecca Dube
      TODAYshow.com TODAYshow.com
      updated 12/16/2010 9:39:42 AM ET 2010-12-16T14:39:42




      This is an interesting article that covers one teachers' year-long blog dedicated to sharing about school lunches. I had previously found myself interested in this topic, as well. Last year, there was a TV show called "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution." I became instantly interested in learning about how children in our schools eat and how we can make it better and healthier. After watching the entire season, and seeing one small town in West Virginia transform from having  poor diets to knowing how to sustain a healthy living, and not just in the schools, but across the entire town. And of course, after seeing the episode in which he showed the kids how chicken nuggets are made: using bones, skin, and leftover parts of chicken to be ground and pattied... I promised myself I would NEVER eat another chicken nugget unless it says "100% white breast meat."

      I actually took on an experiment of my own last year after watching the show. During Science, I discussed with my students about the show, and about how food gives us energy and we should make better decisions about what goes into our bodies. I talked about how bad chocolate and strawberry milk are, and we even looked at the Nutritional Information on the sides of the cartons during lunch and discussed the calories, fat, etc. I decided to reward students who made healthier choices at lunch, by choosing white milk over the other two. I would give them a ticket (for prize box), any time they willingly chose the healthier milk option. By the end of the year, 2/3 of my 24 students were drinking white milk. The interesting thing is, out of those 24, about 16 still remain at the school (in 5th grade). Upon recent observation, I noticed that at least half of them still drink the white milk! (And only about 3 had from the beginning of the experiment last year). So, I sometimes wonder if I really made that big of an impact on their healthy decisions, at least towards milk.

      Most recently, I have found myself involved in learning how to create a school garden. We recently visited another elementary school nearby and learned so much about how it benefits their students, how involved they are, and how excited they get when it's time to manage and harvest.
      I think our students need to learn how to eat healthier, and I think the schools should have better food options for them. If we don't let them know the difference between good and bad food, they'll never learn it. But if we present it in a fun and informative way, they'll adapt and find that they like it more than they think.

      Comments/Questions/Discussion Points????

        • Re: Year of mystery meat: Blogger eats school lunch every day

          What a creative way to teach nutrition and healthy eating.  It would be great if you were to involve the students in creating the garden.  You could even have them select the seeds and plants to be grown in the garden. Students could calculate the cost of seeds and plants, type of soil and even write about the progress of their garden.  What a wonderful learning experience!  These are life long lessons.

          • Re: Year of mystery meat: Blogger eats school lunch every day

            Wow Boyd that is neat you are such an innovative/creative teacher what a way to creatively get others to change their eating habits.  I think it would be great if the student were active in the garden.

            • Re: Year of mystery meat: Blogger eats school lunch every day

              I created this powerpoint of a recent visit to another elementary school to learn about the gardens and benefits for students.

              The second attachment is from two websites (sites are cited in attachment) that give benefits to having these gardens at our schools.

              • Re: Year of mystery meat: Blogger eats school lunch every day

                Kristy- your comments made me think of a Unit Plan that is in Designing Effective Projects - Healthy Eating: Are We What We Eat? 


                This is a K-2 Unit plan that takes a closer look at nutrition and how students can make healthier choices.  The ideas could easily be adapted for older grades.


                I too think that nutrition begins with awareness and when you can make a real life connection with the students they tend to remember it. 

                • Re: Year of mystery meat: Blogger eats school lunch every day

                  Kristi, School lunches, what a great topic to use for project based learning. You mention in one of your posts here about kids growing their own food. It reminds me of a grant we worked on with the New York Horticultural Society called Apple Seeds " Apple Seed is an inquiry–based program that emphasizes raising the level of critical thinking among students and sharpening their powers of observation. Apple Seed includes hand-on activities that integrate science learning with reading, mathematics, writing, cultural history, geography, and artistic expression." We don't often think of NYC and gardening, but the Horticultural Society does a great job in "greening" city kids. I enjoyed your chicken nugget story, but I remain nostalgic for school cafeteria hot dogs, no matter what they were made of. lol

                  • Re: Year of mystery meat: Blogger eats school lunch every day



                    This is a great way to get your students thinking about making wise choices for healthy living.  I think involving them in the creation of the garden would be beneficial to them.  There are so many curricular areas that could be integrated here.  And, like Julia said, the Intel Unit Healthy Eating: Are We What We Eat is a great unit to adapt to what you are doing. 


                    Our 3rd through 5th grade school received a Healthy Living Grant last year that has allowed us to do several things these past two years.  We built a paved walking path behind the school in a figure eight design.  Along the path are benches for resting, water fountains, and posted signs with nutritional facts. We had a Family Track Day to introduce the track to families.  On this day, we had a couple tents set up with a variety of healthy snacks to sample along with games to encourage more active lifestyles.  Our hospital teamed with us to provide stations to get information on skin care.  Our PE teacher ordered pedometers for every staff member and student to track our steps during the day.  Our principal would share the number of tracks she walked the following morning on our school broadcast to challenge students to beat her.  So, when students needed a brain break, they'd often just stand by their desks and walk in place.  Another item that was donated to our school because of our commitment to healthy living was a Fitness Arcade.  My 5th grade technology club is in the process of creating video clips to show how to use the equipment.  Every day students get a vegetable or fruit to introduce them to a variety of healthy foods.  We have also done away with the fryer in the kitchen. 


                    Reading your entry made me think that our next step might be to plant a garden so that students learn how many of these vegetables and fruits are grown.  Thanks for sharing and giving me an idea for our next steps.