Schools around the country are beginning to change the way children view nutrition and healthy eating.
A curriculum developed by the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future shows students the importance of eating healthy and how to make healthy choices for themselves. reports Alexandra Pannoni for US News.
Laurie Collins, the district instructional facilitator for the program, had this to say:
"The curriculum is designed to help students understand the food system, basically from farm to fork, but on a global perspective with the idea that you teach students about how food systems work and let them make their own decisions," she says.
Teachers across the country are using this curriculum to help create new courses.
Julie Olsen-Smith, a family and consumer sciences teacher in Louisville, Colorado, created a new course for students to learn about nutrition and cooking.
"It used to be just, you know, âSuzy Homemaker, let's go make cookies.' And that's fine and great, but what is that really teaching our students as a life skill?"
Students in her course will spend the first part of each week studying topics about nutrition, such as the farm-to-table movement. They will then complete the week by trying their hand at preparing healthy meals. Similar courses are taught at schools in Maryland.
A fitness and nutrition course is offered in Illinois bringing together physical education and healthy eating. Part of the class is spent in the gym, with the other part focusing on nutrition in a classroom setting.
Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse, a restaurant known for its use of locally-sourced, organic foods, created the Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California 17 years ago. With the help of teachers, she created an organic garden on the school's grounds as well as a kitchen classroom. Students help to grow, harvest, and prepare the foods from the garden.
This program developed into her School Lunch Initiative, which focuses on bringing healthy lunches to schoolchildren. Fedele Bauccio of The Huffington Post reports that 80% of the food products sold in the United States have added sugar, and that Americans are eating 78 pounds of sugar per person, per year. This statistic gives many experts reason to believe that processed foods are leading to early-onset juvenile diabetes, among other health problems.
Waters' initiative took out almost all processed foods from schools taking part in the program, and replaced them with healthy, organic alternatives, all while staying with the school's budget.
Right there, in the middle of every school day, lies time and energy already devoted to the feeding of children. We have the power to turn that daily school lunch from an afterthought into a joyous education, a way of caring for our health, our environment, and our community. – Alice Waters, Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea
First Lady Michelle Obama has also spoken out about healthy eating in schools, saying that schools need help making healthy food a choice children want to make, writes Charlie Spiering for Breitbart News Network.
"What we need to do is lend a hand to the schools that are struggling, not roll back the standards and say, âOh, well. The kids don't like it so let them eat cake,'" she insisted. "We can't afford to do that."