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Let' Move Blog

Empowering Students to Make the Healthy Choice the Right Choice

I’ve seen a lot of great changes come about in the West Central School District since the implementation of the new school meal pattern in 2012, and I’m very grateful for the process we’ve gone through.

The changes in the younger kids have been the most noticeable. Exposing them to more fruits and vegetables has been really exciting. When we first began introducing new fruits and vegetables, I was surprised that some kids had never had cantaloupe or honeydew melons. Now, I go to the local market and I see students there pointing out fruits and vegetables and telling their parents, “Mom, Dad, you’ve got to try this!” The younger kids now ask me about proteins, grains, and what other types of nutrients they need.

Students at the high school level have also been affected by the change. For that age group, communication has been key. At the beginning, I didn’t have any complaints from parents, but I did have concerns from students about the amount of food they were getting and the reduction in bread. 

As students came to my office to express their concerns, some of them came up with an idea. They recognized the impact of the new regulations and decided to develop a skit for their Future Farmers of America (FFA) competition. Students presented the pros and cons of the question “Should Federal School Lunch Regulations be Repealed?”  

They performed the skit for the school board, district administration and students. The skit called attention to the importance and impact of the new regulations, educated students about the issues, and helped increase the number of kids eating lunch in the second year of implementation. The skit earned first place at state FFA competition, and later placed fifth nationally.

In the first year of implementation of the new rules, school lunch participation dropped by 4 percent. But in the second year, 2013-2014, participation increased higher than it had been previously. Students learned how to plan their meals better. They learned that breakfast is an important meal to have in addition to lunch, and now school breakfast participation is up as well.

I’ve worked closely with students at all levels – elementary, middle, and high school. The kids really partnered with me to spread information about the meals. I’m so excited to see how much the elementary and middle school kids will develop growing up with these standards, and how different they will be when they get into high school.