It’s exciting to see individual schools coming up with plans to initiate programs that push the sustainable food agenda. When it comes to eating habits, it is at home and at school that kids formulate their best judgments. Once out of their parents’ hands, it is up to the schools to ensure that the students are eating better and leading healthy lifestyles.
Of course the easiest road for the schools to take when it comes to feeding students is ordering the same old foods from the same old places. Some things will never change… unless progressive measures are taken to ensure that students are given access to the healthiest foods possible.
And where do these healthy options come from? They come from sustainable local sources whenever possible. This is not rocket science. Unfortunately longterm poor eating trends can be blamed on apathy, corporate greed, lack of knowledge and understanding, among other issues.
The good thing is that these problematic and systemic issues can be rectified, as seen by the incredible initiatives that are underway at Westminster Community Charter School (WCCS). The school has enlisted the help of Sustainable Food Partners: Beyond Green and Creatif Leaf Marketing in order to come up with fun and effective programming that will ultimately lead students to living healthier and more productive lives. The programs will teach the K-8 graders where foods come from, their benefits, how to prepare them, right down to the importance of waste reduction and being good stewards of the earth.
“Teaching students about where foods come from and providing them with hands-on learning opportunities about foods and the environment will better position them to make healthier choices and contribute to a cleaner environment now and in the future,” said Robert Ross, Principal at Westminster Community Charter School. “We are excited about creating a comprehensive program that takes students through the process of growing foods, nourishing their bodies and giving back to our planet.”
Key elements of the sustainable food program include:
- Increasing the amount of local and seasonal foods that are served and cooking foods from scratch
- Westminster Jr. Chefs – a student kitchen internship where 7th and 8th grade students are getting hands-on experience with food and cooking in the school kitchen
- Incorporating food and nutrition education in the dining room, the classroom, and the school garden through the University at Buffalo’s dietetic internship program
- Reducing waste in the kitchen and dining room by recycling and composting
“It’s important to teach children, from an early age, about where their foods come from and how food choices can impact their health and our planet,” said Greg Christian, Founder of Beyond Green. “We are very excited to be partnering with Westminster to build a comprehensive food sustainability program in Buffalo that could also be used as a model for other schools nationwide.”
Much of what these students learn will be taken home with them, where they will share with their families and their communities. The lessons start in the classroom, and will be with the students for the rest of their lives. Instilling sensible eating habits at an early age is a key to fighting obesity and numerous related health issues that are plaguing this country.
Lead image: Westminster kindergarten students in their school kitchen learning how to make applesauce from local apples (from Facebook)