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