Obesity Epidemic- Lucy King and Kathrynn Udell

Context    

Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

Michigan Legislature: Act 315 of 2008: Farm-to-School Procurement Act

FARM-TO-SCHOOL PROCUREMENT ACT Act 315 of 2008


AN ACT to provide for the coordination and development of certain farm-to-school procurement processes and procedures; to provide for procedures and recommendations for certain farm product producers to access school-related food programs; to provide for certain powers and duties for the departments of education and agriculture; and to provide for the dissemination of certain information to schools and farm product producers.

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

This proposal will have a significant impact on lives of students because it will improve their overall health, which in turn effects their every day lives. The pilot program that we have developed through extensive research and consultations will allow kids to make better choices throughout the day every day. This pilot program will not only get kids excited about healthy food options, but will also help them understand the implications of what they eat. If kids are able to start healthy eating habits at a young age, it is more likely that they will continue these habits throughout their lives, thus reducing the chances of developing chronic health issues (as a result of obesity) such as diabetes and heart disease.

Furthermore, obesity has a direct impact on a child’s performance in the classroom as well. Research has proven that obesity is directly associated with poorer academic performance, lower test scores and being held back in school. These effects can be seen as early as kindergarten, which is why it is so important to address the importance of healthy eating starting at a young age. Kids should not be subjected to a dimmer future because of bad eating habits. If this pilot program were successful on a small scale, and eventually expanded it would be expected that teachers would notice an increase in overall success rates, as well in class energy and participation.

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

We both became very interested in this topic from our high school experiences. While we both attended private schools, we felt that the food options were often not edible. While we grew up educated about the importance of healthy eating habits, we still felt as though we made unhealthy choices because of the food that was available to us. Our schools both had a pasta bar, and if we didn’t like the hot lunch being served (which was most days) we indulged in a bowl of pasta (which is fine to some extent but not every day). 

As we brainstormed our proposal topic, we reflected on this experience, which led to a conversation about the negative impact that unhealthy food options have on kids.  Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that the overarching theme of our proposal would be childhood obesity, as we discovered that these rates are alarming. After we settled on a topic, we were able to learn more about the underlying issues of our proposal through both online research as well as through consultations. Our research showed that schools allocate very few resources towards healthy eating, and that most schools are serving processed foods. This is especially prevalent in low-income neighborhoods, which is alarming given that many of these kids have to consume the majority of their meals at school. Furthermore, the majority of public schools are not spending the appropriate amount of time educating kids on the importance of healthy eating habits.

Our consultations helped confirm that access to healthy foods is indeed a huge issue, and that many places are actually trying to combat this issue on a small scale. However, it has not been easy due to the limited funding available and lack of urgency and understanding surrounding the problem. Furthermore, our references helped reassure that we are addressing a very prevalent problem in a creative way that has not been done before, as well as forced us to think about the possible failures of our program. 

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

Volunteering at Food Gather’s immediately opened our eyes to the food scarcity in Washtenaw County.  Our main role at Food Gatherers was to prepare meals and serve them to those in need in Washtenaw County.  Our service prompted us to think about other means of alleviating hunger in the area.  One that was particularly interesting to us was free or reduced lunches or meals at schools. Many students are eligible for free or reduced lunches, which lead us to question the choices that are provided by school cafeterias. For most children, a majority of their caloric intake is consumed during school hours. Thus, with major childhood obesity issues occurring, the access to healthy choices in school is critical to combating childhood obesity. 

Once we started focusing on obesity we looked into how schools contributed to the obesity epidemic for their students.  We first looked into schools in low-income neighborhoods, where a majority of student’s receive free or reduced lunches.  Many low-income school districts do not provide access to wholesome options or do not encourage and educate students on making healthy choices and creating healthy habits. As we further researched school cafeteria’s and childhood obesity we focused on directly changing the options provided for all students and how schools can encourage their students to form healthy habits and choose healthy alternatives over poor meal choices.

While the focus of our proposal shifted away from our initial thoughts on pinpointing free and reduced lunches, we were still aware of the impact organizations such as Food Gatherers have on the community and the need for these organizations and schools to promote wholesome choices. We quickly became aware that cheap food options that are easy to access often have extremely poor nutritional value.  The palates of children who are constantly exposed to cheap unhealthy options are affected, thus prompting them to choose unhealthy options  that they are accustomed to over the healthy alternative provided in cafeterias. Our involvement in Food Gatherers stemmed our proposal to change the wholesome meals provided in schools and the attitudes children have about healthy options. 

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTBiDChdSi8

Consultations

Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1:

Paul Olson: Executive Chef and Menu Coordinator of Nub&Co and Jolly Pumpkin

Speaking with Paul was quite informative about the motivation to make healthy choices and turn away from empty calories.  Paul has previously told me about his work with the Detroit Red Wings where he works to teach them healthy habits and hopes to engage and excite them about healthy eating by teaching them how to cook wholesome meals.  He felt very strongly that the players are interested in healthy eating because they have fun learning about it and being apart of the process to create the meals.  Paul felt that similar to the hockey team, young students must be motivated by good reasoning to follow through with difficult tradeoffs regarding cafeteria lunches. He mentioned that being able to contribute and work hands on while learning about healthy eating creates a positive atmosphere and engrosses the students far more than being lectured in class.  Similar to the team, in order for students to choose the healthy alternative, they need to change student’s attitudes; creating a fun environment around wholesome meals will encourage the students to be excited about the healthy choices that appear in the cafeteria. 

CONSULTATION 2: 

Tressa Breindel: Owner of Integrative Health Richmond, Specializes in diet and lifestyle counseling and functional medicine diagnosis and treatment.

After explaining to Tressa the basics of our pilot program, she helped us brainstorm additional thoughts, as well as provided us with constructive pushback on our ideas. Tressa definitely agreed that schools are enablers in terms of unhealthy eating habits, and that it is possible that they could play a role in mending the issue of childhood obesity. She was very supportive of our idea to have kids engage in cooking classes so that they feel more connected to the food they are eating. However, she brought up the important point that many kids in elementary school simply have underdeveloped palettes, and thus it may be difficult to find food that will be enjoyed by the majority of students. She encouraged us to further brainstorm how we would create a menu that appeals to elementary school kids, but is also still healthy. Furthermore, she truly believes that many kids are simply not educated on the adverse affects of unhealthy eating, and that the educational aspect of our pilot program will be just as important as the actual food consumption. 

CONSULTATION 3:

Samantha Bakken, Elementary Teacher at Incarnation Catholic School

Samantha Bakken, an elementary school teacher, provided insight on her student’s attentiveness and academic achievement due to eating choices at the start of our proposal. I consulted with we again and explained my proposal, asking her opinion on the barriers to healthy eating and causes for obesity in students.  Se pointed out how she has noticed the changes in student’s performance due to the snacks provided during the day.  Samantha believed that the access to healthy food and the choices made by children is the biggest factor in childhood obesity.  She said that the school does little in the elementary education to teach about healthy eating, but when she incorporates healthy snacks there are never complaints from her students.  She also said that she thinks that encouraging healthy eating to young students will help form habits, but drastically changing cafeteria menus may result in unhappy students who need balance in their diet. She suggested that including healthy options but also keeping some of the student’s favorite snacks or lunches would provide a healthy balance.  Samantha also pointed out that making changes to the cafeteria may be beneficial to some kids, but many of her students pack lunches or bring snacks from home that are of poor nutrition as well.  This presented a challenge for us, because only the students who consistently get meals at school would benefit from the healthy options provided in the cafeteria. 

Prospectus:

In the United States alone, nearly 78 million adults and 13 million children deal with the emotional and physical effects of obesity every day. Furthermore, 33.3 percent of children and adolescents between the age of 9 and 16 are considered overweight or obese. Unfortunately, Michigan is ranked number 17 on the list of most obese states, and this problem is only getting worse.

While there are many possible triggers causing the rise in obesity rates, limited access to healthy food across the country is thought to be a culprit. One of the sectors that is really struggling from this limited access happens to be our children’s schools. Many public schools across the nation are having difficulties providing healthy food options and accessing fresh fruits and vegetables. Much of this is due to inadequate funding, especially in lower income neighborhoods, causing schools to purchase processed food for their cafeterias. Additionally, convenience stores located in close proximity to middle and high schools represent an important, and also very unhealthy source of food for youth, and have a severe impact on diets. Studies have shown that low-income neighborhoods have greater access to convenience stores, and thus little access to healthy snack options. Alternatively, students in wealthier neighborhoods have less access to convenience stores, and if they do, the snack options are more nutritious. Schools located in rural areas also struggle with this issue, as many of the delivery services providing for these districts do not offer healthy options.

The lack of access to healthy meals in the school cafeteria results in french fries accounting for 46 percent of children’s vegetable servings. Poor eating in schools, where some students intake over half of their calories per day, results in overweight and obese children, increasing the risk for these children to experience low self-esteem, physical health issues, shorter attention span and several other consequences. Teachers are aware of the impact that poor nutrition has on their children in the classroom.  Samantha Bakken, a grade school teacher spoke about the issue stating that, “Children need energy to learn and and succeed in their academic endeavours. Being fed nutritious meals from the beginning of the day gives children the chance to see improvements in their academic achievements.” It is time that we find a solution to this problem and save our children from this epidemic.

Sources:

http://thefoodtrust.org/uploads/media_items/access-to-healthy-food.original.pdf

http://stateofobesity.org/food-insecurity/

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces/healthtopics/healthyfood/obesity.htm

http://www.healthykidshealthymich.com/childhood-obesity-facts-and-statistics.html

http://www.rd.com/health/healthy-eating/can-school-lunches-cause-obesity/

Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: 

Connect local farmers to schools: Providing students with food from local farmers will help to improve daily nutrition as well as increase options. This particular solution could be modeled after the state of Vermont’s Farm to School movement, which almost 60% of the state’s schools have joined. With the help of the state’s Agency of Agriculture, Department of Health and Department of Education, kids have been able to access farm fresh foods for breakfast and for lunch. This movement not only benefits the children, but also benefits local farmers who have expanded their business into a market worth over $40 million. This particular solution would allow access to healthy food options across the state. Other areas around the country have also started and been successful pursuing similar movements. In the past couple of years the USDA has offered support to help schools purchase foods from local farmers. The US Agriculture secretary stated, “the USDA is proud to support communities across the country as they plan and implement innovative farm to school projects.” Thus, If Michigan is able to draft a comprehensive program, the state may also receive funding from the USDA. http://eatdrinkbetter.com/2011/09/01/healthy-school-lunches/

    https://www.fns.usda.gov/pressrelease/2014/026014

SOLUTION 2:

Nutrition education: Implementing nutrition education into the curriculum of young students can combat the increasing rates of childhood obesity by teaching children good nutrition habits, thus decreasing the likelihood of the child becoming overweight. Children raised in households where parents are uneducated about proper nutrition will benefit from nutrition education the most.  If children are aware of the health benefits and the positive outcomes of choosing fresh fruits and vegetables over empty-calorie foods suchs a chips or cookies, they will be able to make educated choices for themselves when dining in the school cafeteria. The USDA promotes nutrition education in schools using Serving up MyPlate: A Yummy Curriculum. Serving Up MyPlate provides schools and teachers materials to integrate nutrition education in various aspects of the curriculum.  Materials include posters, songs, games and additional resources for parents to utilize at home.  This nutrition curriculum stresses the importance of wholesome food choices and eating all 5 food groups in one’s diet, along with the importance of physical activity. This solution is easy to implement in schools because the materials and resources can be acquired easily. This solution is important in allowing children to feel in control of their nutrition and a preventative measure in regard to the consequences of inadequate nutrition. This solution will be most effective and successful if children are being provided a variety of wholesome and nutritious meal options in the school cafeteria.

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/importance-good-nutrition-kids-6236.html

https://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/serving-myplate-yummy-curriculum

 

SOLUTION 3:

Equal access to healthy food options: As stated in our prospectus, limited access to healthy food options disproportionately affects those in low income neighborhoods. This particular solution could be modeled after schools in Greeley, Colorado, an area in which 60% of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. The public schools in Greeley have been cooking foods from scratch, thus avoiding large amounts of processed foods.  The school has moved away from buying pre-made frozen food items to making almost all meals using produce from local farmers. Schools in Greeley transformed their cafeteria’s after the USDA altered the standard for healthy options at school.  School lunches range from homemade chili and lasagna with an abundance of vegetables to PB&J sandwiches. This solution would be extremely beneficial to improving children’s obesity because it works to provide healthy options that are appealing, both in appearance and taste.  Schools can make strides towards modeling their cafeteria's off of Greeley’s schools by redistributing their food budget to obtain more fresh, locally sourced ingredients instead of frozen products and working to create new menus that encourage children to make healthy choices.

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/greeley-school-district-hopes-to-change-eating-habits-with-new-school-menu

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

            Our topic coordinator, Elijah, specifically stated that our second solution might experience a lot of pushback.   We proposed a nutrition education program that he thought would be a good idea, but would not see the time of day because Detroit schools suffer in so many other areas. We completely agree that this would probably be the case given that any further allocation to education would be focused on core areas, and not nutrition. To combat this, we decided that the educational aspect of our pilot program would be tied into our cooking classes (which would occur every other week) and thus not take away from important class time.

            Elijah also commented that we have to be aware of the money needed to fund this program. While we are still figuring out the exact funding necessary to implement the pilot program, we are hoping to work with local restaurants and organizations that are happy to donate some of their time at a small cost.

Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

Choosing Food Gatherers as our service, we were immediately exposed to food issues and as we participated in more caucus discussions, underlying issues such as food scarcity and access to food were issues that sparked our interest as we gravitated towards those discussion posts.  Further research on food related issues in Michigan opened our eyes to obesity issues and the obesity epidemic that is affecting children.  We gained more awareness and understanding of the obesity issue from The Food Trust, State of Obesity, CDC, and healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan.  It was clear that there were serious health effects from childhood obesity, and we were passionate about authoring a proposal to help combat the epidemic.  We briefly gathered information from Dominic Barrett, the executive director at Shalom Farms; he provided a deeper understanding of Shalom Farm’s mission to overcome obesity by providing those living below the poverty live with opportunities to access healthy food options.

Further research led us to recognize the effect school lunches have on children.  Many children are eligible for free and reduced lunch and consume a majority of their daily calories at school.  Various articles presented alarming statistics on the increased risk of childhood obesity for children who regularly bought school lunches.  We reached out to Samantha Bakken, an elementary teacher, who believed that children must be provided nutritious meals in order to reach their full potential at school.  We were made aware that many cafeterias offer processed, frozen options as opposed to making lunches from scratch with fresh ingredients. We researched other state’s legislation regarding the topic of school lunches and learned about Vermont’s Farm to School Movement; this movement promotes the partnership of schools and local farms to provide student’s farm fresh options for breakfast and lunch. We also looking into programs in Denver, CO, where school cafeterias were committed to providing lunches made from scratch as opposed to mass produced, frozen meals. 

After meeting with the MSC faculty, we concluded that our partnering schools with farms was the best solution to implement and that we would incorporate an educational component by offering cooking classes: we hope that being involved in the process will motivate kids to choose the meals in the cafeteria.  We then spoke to Paul Olson, a chef who has worked with hockey players to teach them the importance of healthy eating and encourage them to form healthy habits and make tradeoffs in their diet.  He is a strong supporter of farm to table cooking, and encouraged us to pursue the partnership of schools and local farmers.  He reaffirmed our belief that teaching nutrition with a hands-on component and allowing the students to feel like they are a part of the process will encourage them to make healthy decisions when choosing from cafeteria options. We reached out to Samantha Bakken again; she warned us that while improving cafeteria options is necessary, some students bring lunches and snacks from home, and they are of the same poor nutrition value as the cafeteria and vending machine options. We also spoke to Tressa Breindel, a specialist in diet and lifestyle counseling; she stressed the importance of the educational element to help students understand the implications of diet choices and to motivate students to develop healthy habits.  Moreover, she shared a similar worry to one of our initial setbacks regarding children’s palates being underdeveloped.  To combat this she suggested working with the kids to create a menu that is healthy, but still appealing to the young children.

We have finalized our legislation to be implemented as a pilot program in a few schools throughout Michigan. After extensive research we believe that the pilot program can improve school lunches by providing farsh fresh options and incorporate hands on learning by involved the students in cooking classes where the focus is on educating and promoting the healthy options that will be available for school lunches.

Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?

Proposal breakdown by section:

Both Lucy & Kathrynn:

Media Artifact

Consultations

Prospectus

Solutions

Counter Arguments

Costs and Funding

Reaction or advice from a topic coordinator

Lucy

Why this proposal will make a difference

How and where we learned about the issues underlying the proposal

Perambulatory clauses

Therefore it be resolved

Kathrynn

Michigan bill

How service impacted thinking

Research process

In terms of the work on this proposal, we were able to meet often and either work on certain parts together, or divide it evenly amongst ourselves. The research and idea generation process was a joint effort, as was the drafting language.  Our ultimate proposal is a result of us both having an interest in the obesity epidemic and being able to bounce ideas off of one another to create a final product.

===FORMAL PROPOSAL===

The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

Upset by the fact that 4th, 5th and 6th graders who are obese miss 12 days of school per year WHEREAS.... the average student in this age group misses 3 days of school per year.

Realized that 84% of the schools that have implemented nutrtition programs also have healthier eating practices WHEREAS.... those that do not have nutrition programs rank school meals very low on a nutrition scale

Discovered that 32.6% of children in Michigan ages 0-17 are obese WHEREAS.... the national average is 31.3%

Worried by the fact that schools that have implemented healthier food options have seen garbage cans piling up and an increase in students packing their own lunches WHEREAS....schools that are still serving greasy food options are retaining student customers

(Add more "Whereas" clauses if necessary.)

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED....

1. That a pilot program be established in 10 diversified elementary schools across the state of Michigan with the goal of helping kids make healthier food choices

2. That these kids gain hands-on experience with the local farmers and restaurants that come to teach cooking classes every other week for three months

3. That kids receive menu options for the food they cook along with the nutritional value provided by these healthy food options  

4. That the kids benefit from both feeling more connected to the healthy food they have been exposed to, helping them make better choices throughout the day

5. That the Michigan community surrounding these schools support and become invovled with the fight against obesity

(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)

Counter-arguments:

What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. For the most part, kids this age have underdeveloped palates and may not like any of the options provided. With organizations such as local restaurants and farmers providing the ingredients for the menu options, there may not be much flexibility in terms of what will be cooked. This may lead to unhappy children, or cause them to simply not eat the meal.

2. While many student's eat the meals provided by school cafeteria's, other student's bring lunches and snacks from home. Low-income families may not have the means to provide wholesome, nutritional options. Parents also may be uneducated on proper nutrition, resulting in students bringing lunches and snacks and consistently eating meals with poor nutritional value. 

3. With already low test scores from many Michigan schools, there many be strong opposition from the education board and parents alike towards dedicating time and funding toward nutrition education and away from core curriculum.  

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

The direct expenses for this program would be the food provided by local farms or restaurants as well as the cost of their time. However, after speaking with Paul Olson, we were reassured that the organizations that are willing to partner with schools will most likely not charge for their time spent with the kids. In a normal cafeteria setting it costs $2 to $3 to feed one student, whereas hiring outside organizations would increase this cost to $5-7 per student.  Thus, the overall cost increase during the life of the pilot program (assuming that the schools could put the money allocated for lunch those days towards the program) would be about $3 per student, every other week for 3 months. This equates to a total additional cost of $18 per student. Furthermore, the average Michigan primary public school has 387 kids, multiplied by 10 schools, we would be serving 3,870 students. With a cost of $18 per student for 3,870 students, the total pilot program direct expenses would be about $70,000.  To cover the costs of the pilot program we plan on applying for a grant to Michigan schools for programs that provide healthy meal options and a grant to Michigan schools to enhance nutrition education.  The non-monetary costs would be the time taken away from core courses in order to learn about nutrition and cooking and the time spend by individuals to successfully implement the pilot program and conduct the cooking classes in schools.

Parties who may object to dedicating resources are the state of Michigan as well as school faculty. As stated earlier, Michigan’s public schools already suffer in terms of low-test scores and education quality. It may be hard to convince those who are advocating for a better core education that the excess time students are spending cooking and learning about nutrition is time well spent. 

References:

These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.

Websites:

http://www.attendanceworks.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Absenses-Add-Up_September-3rd-2014.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm

http://stateofobesity.org/states/mi/

https://www.nihcm.org/categories/preventing-childhood-obesity-in-michigan-s-classrooms

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/08/26/schoolchildren-are-tossing-an-average-of-more-than-a-third-cup-of-fruits-and-veggies-in-the-trash-each-lunch/?utm_term=.0f2dd747b281

https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2001/overview/table05.asp

http://foodsystems.msu.edu/uploads/files/cost-of-school-lunch.pdf

 

CONSULTATIONS

Consultation 1: Phone call with Paul Olson

Q: I know you have done work with the Detroit Red Wing’s players and their nutritionist on teaching the team how to maintain a healthy diet. Do you think it is effective?

A: The most important part of my lessons with the team is showing them that healthy options can taste good and how easy it is to change bad habits into healthy habits.  It’s all about changing attitudes.

Q: Do you think that educating them is more effective because of the hands-on element? 

A: Absolutely; anyone can sit them down and lecture them on the importance of a balanced diet, but unless they see how it is being done and that it is not only easy but can be fun and engaging, they are never going to believe in it.  Learning how to cook healthy options next to their teammates is fun and they are more excited to eat the final product knowing they contributed towards it.

Q: Can you see this program being effective in a school setting where children are educated on healthy habits and learn how to cook what is being served to them?

A: A program like this has potential for being extremely beneficial for students.  Thinking back to the options I chose from and what I ate on a daily basis at school makes me realize the need for appealing healthy choices.  But often times when comparing a healthy alternative to chicken tenders and fries, the palates of young children are often times going to send them straight to the chicken tenders. Therefore, if schools included an education aspect where the students are a part of the cooking, they will later be excited to eat what they have been apart of making.  Devoting time to teaching students and allowing them to feel like they can contribute, thus it will help students move away from empty calories and choose wholesome balanced meals.

Consultation 2: Conversation with Tressa Breindel (3/30/2017 via phone)

Q: Do you agree that schools play a large role in childhood obesity?

A: “I think that schools definitely play a role in terms of the scale of healthy food options available, but I also think that a lot of kids don’t know the importance of eating healthy. It’s unfortunate, but schools as well as parents don’t educate their kids on the issue either.”

Q: Do you think if schools offered a healthy food option that kids would eat it?

A: “I think if it were the only thing available kids would eat it, however, I think if kids had a choice between pasta and salad, that they would probably choose salad.”

Q: (Explain our pilot program) Do you think that this on a large scale could be a possible solution?

A: Absoloutely I think that this could be a great idea. I think kids would be more interested in healthy food options if they were the ones actually cooking it. However, as we briefly talked about before, many kids don’t have developed palettes, and so I think creating a universal menu could be difficult. I would encourage you to think about a good way of developing a menu that be accepted by the majority of elementary school kids.

Q: Have you seen efforts towards healthy eating habits in the public schools throughout Richmond, and if so what are they?

A: “Along the lines of what you guys are thinking of doing, I actually helped put together a partnership between an organization called Shalom Farms and one of the local public schools with the goal of creating healthier lunches. Shalom Farms provides ingredients to the school on a daily basis, and lunch every day is made from those ingredients. I also am helping a different public school put together a series of 4 healthy eating educational sessions that will be mandatory for all kids (k-4th grade) to attend.”


Consultation 3: Samantha Bakken Phone Interview 

Q: What factors do you see at school that you think contributes to childhood obesity?

A: The food choices and food provided for the children.  All of my students are active and take advantage of their free play time to run around.  Lack of breakfast, lunches and snacks are what is contributing to the obesity issue. Most snacks that children bring are unhealthy and the snack choices provided by the school are often times not much better.

Q: Does the school currently make any efforts to educate the children about healthy eating?

A: I teach first graders, so there are not lesson plans that provide nutrition education. Thus, the student’s habit are a result of what they see at home and school.  I try to incorporate healthy food options when food is used in classroom activities.  

Q: What are the kid’s reactions to healthy snacks involved in the lessons as opposed to candy or chips?

A: They always eat the snack I provide and there are often no complaints.  I try to use an enticing option like oranges or baked apple chips instead of potato chips.

Q: Do you notice a difference in student performance after an unhealthy snack option versus a healthy alternative? (i.e. chips vs. apple chips).

A: It’s hard to say because I only incorporate healthy options directly into my lesson plans.  But, after students eat a particularly unhealthy and heavy lunch they are less attentive and motivated for the remainder of the day.  Additionally, on a student’s birthday they can bring in a class snack for snack time, instead of individually bringing a snack or me providing a snack.  When they hit a sugar rush and then crash mid day from the birthday snack, as opposed to eating a healthier snack I provide, their participation and overall ability to perform adequately on their school work changes.

Q: If students received education on nutrition at an early age do you think they would form healthy habits?

A: Of course, for first graders I think that if there was a new healthy habit to focus on each week or a healthy food of the week that was provided for snack time instead of snacks with poor nutrition value they would be more inclined to start choosing healthy options for themselves. 

Q: If schools provided access to healthy options do you think your students would make these choices for themselves?

A: If they were appealing healthy choices, yes.  But healthy habits have to be formed for any kid to choose an apple over fries.  I think that incorporating healthy choices into the diet and scaling back on unhealthy choices would be the most beneficial.  Students need a balance. 

That being said, many students pack lunches or bring their own snacks.  Therefore, it is more than just what they access at school but it also depends on what their families are providing them with.  Some of my student’s parents pack healthier meals and snacks than those provided at school but other student’s packed lunches have the same poor nutritional value as the cafeteria options.

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Total votes: 18