Eleventh graders Elaina Balk, Haley Martin, and Michael Mashek visited Crestwood Elementary on Wednesday, March 16 to encourage students to eat a healthy lunch. Balk, Martin, and Mashek are participants in the Food & Fitness Initiative at Crestwood High School in the Howard-Winneshiek Community School District.
Students were encouraged to try foods they otherwise might not try. If they finished at least two different foods on their plates students were given stickers, and if they finished their entire meals they received bracelets from the Food & Fitness Team – a lot of students were excited about finishing their meals that day!
Howard-Winn Nutrition Director Cheryl Dickman notes the Food & Fitness Initiative is a Northeast Iowa-based program, including Allamakee, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette, Howard, and Winneshiek counties. A primary goal of the Initiative is to promote healthy and locally grown foods as well as physical fitness to children at school.
The district currently has Junior High and High School Food & Fitness Teams. “Our high school teams throughout the years have been Cross-age Teaching to students in the lower grades about taste-testing fruits and vegetables,” Dickman said. “Now the Initiative has come up with Cafeteria Coaching where high school students come in and encourage the younger students to try things they probably wouldn’t have tried that’s on their lunch trays.”
Lunch on Wednesday consisted of pork tenderloin sandwiches on wholegrain buns with French fries, corn, applesauce, and milk, as well as access to the salad bar where items like fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions, hard-boiled eggs, and strawberries could be found.
“The pork tenderloin comes through the USDA commodities. Years ago, the commodities weren’t that great, and the commodity foods were the things that the kids wouldn’t eat,” Dickman said. “Now the USDA is working at getting more kid-friendly and we’re seeing items like this come in, which helps us save in costs.”
The nutrition director says Wednesday was an easy day to get most students to eat, because the school was serving foods they seem to like. The Food Service at Howard-Winn puts together menus that include items they want the students to try, however, they also pair the items with foods they know the students really like, so they will not leave their entire lunch trays untouched on any given day.
“It really helps when you see the older kids come in and promote healthy eating, showing the younger kids that these foods aren’t scary,” Dickman said.
Source: Howard-Winneshiek Schools, 3/18/16.