Expanding Young Students’ Role In Nutrition

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From Your Health Journal…..”What a great story about LA schools making a change to eat healthy. Students are growing healthy fruits and vegetables in their school garden, then serving it with their lunch. Soda, flavored milk, and sweetened juices are being cut back, and many kids seem to enjoy the healthy change. The school district even went as far as serving healthy breakfast to students so no kid starts the day hungry. As mentioned in this blog many times, health habits start at a young age, so these students are not only being educated in math or science, but also nutrition – which will hopefully last a lifetime. As childhood obesity numbers soar, it is refreshing to read about a success story like this! I strongly recommend reading this awesome story.”

From the article…..

At Mark Twain Middle School in Los Angeles, a blooming garden serves as a classroom. Students learn math by measuring the growth of wheat, ancient history by building a Mesopotamian-style irrigation system and the science of evaporation, evolution and genetics by watching their garden grow.

At lunchtime, they may be found snacking on pasta tossed in a sauce featuring just-picked tomatoes and basil.

Aiming to expand such links between classroom and cafeteria, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education voted this week to further strengthen what is regarded as one of the leading school nutrition programs in the nation. In a resolution passed without opposition, board members directed the district to create a plan to incorporate nutrition education into the curriculum, give students more say in school meal planning and allow them at least 20 minutes to actually eat. Some students say they end up with as little as five minutes for meals because of long cafeteria lines.

The resolution also directs Supt. John Deasy to report on the financial impact of unauthorized food sales on campus, which include chips, cookies and other junk food that compete with the district’s meals. Despite districtwide policies promoting healthful food, many individual campuses sell such perennial favorites as baked Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in school stores and vending machines to raise money.

Board member Steve Zimmer, who co-sponsored the resolution with President Monica Garcia, said the district needed to continue pushing forward on the issue, noting that healthful eating is linked to academic achievement and that some students rely on school meals for most of their daily nutrition.

“We have a sacred obligation to make sure we do everything in our power to raise the quality of our nutritional content,” Zimmer said.

The resolution is the latest effort to put L.A. Unified in the forefront of a national movement to make school meals more nutritious and reduce childhood obesity and other health problems.

Over the past several years, L.A. Unified has banned sodas and flavored milk on campus, introduced classroom breakfasts to ensure no child starts the day hungry and transformed its menus. Many items high in fat, salt and sugar have been removed — including such popular fare as corn dogs and coffee cake — in favor of more whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

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