Local schools serving healthy foods
By Becky Brooks
State Senator Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati) visited Bellevue City Schools Monday to see a local “healthy food” program in action.
Two members of the Bellevue High School’s FCCLA program have been working each week to introduce different fruits and vegetables to kindergartners at Bellevue Elementary School, according to a press release.
On Monday, BHS students and FCCLA members Jordan Halsey and Sonia Mott donned their fruity hats and reviewed health food lessons with classes of kindergartners in the elementary school as Kearney and Superintendent Kim Schubert watched.
At the start of each of three sessions before lunch, Kearney introduced himself to the students and spoke a bit about healthy eating.
Kearney pointed out he was interested in the Bellevue City Schools program, because he was the sponsor of Senate Bill 210 — The Healthy Choices for Healthy Children legislation, which was signed into law in 2010.
“This school is one of the leaders in the state in implementing healthy choices,” he said Monday while at the school.
Kearney also joked he would drive anywhere he was invited to visit.
The state senator also has a BHS alumnus on his staff, Leo Almeida, who visited BES with Kearney on Monday.
Kearney said there are several schools in the state that are success stories as to how they have implemented Healthy Choices as part of their nutrition program.
In Bellevue, Jackie Hess, the Food Services Director, has made an effort to include whole grains and a variety of fruit and vegetable choices into the students’ daily lunches.
She noted that when children have choices they tend to buy more lunches. “In the past we had a lot of waste. Now I’m guaranteed students will eat their lunch, because they are choosing foods they want to eat and the trash cans are less full, and the students are getting the nutrition they need,” she noted in a press release.
Hess has made changes so the foods the children are getting are better for them such as using frozen vegetables when she cannot use fresh to avoid the sodium of canned vegetables.
Over 75 precedent of the grains served at lunch are whole grains — even in the macaroni and cheese — which also uses reduced fat cheeses. The district is also serving flavored skim milk as an option.
With so many foods — healthier foods — being new to the students, the FCCLA teamed with Hess to provide education to young students to try new foods before they found them on their trays.
On Monday Jordan Halsey and Sonia Mott were introducing students to pepper slices — giving them a chance to taste red, green and yellow bell peppers with low fat ranch dressing.
The sessions were being videotaped so they could be shared with other students during lunch.
On Monday morning, the students who braved the new food received a sticker. Some children ate the pepper while others tasted and threw it away. Still the brave ones who tried it received their sticker.
Halsey and Mott also reviewed with the students the other foods they had tried in past lessons, including pumpkin cookies, fresh kiwi, sweet potatoes and — the one the kindergartners seem to remember most clearly — Brussels sprouts.
The local district not only has adopted HB 210 in its lunch lines, but also in class lessons on healthy living.
So Kearney also visited the middle school and high school on Monday.
At BHS, he visited the Ag Sciences room and the Family and Consumer Sciences room to check up on two types of gardens being raised by students. One is a dirt garden where students are raising salad-oriented plants and the other hydroponics — where lettuce is growing.
The visiting state senator also stopped to visit middle school students for a question and answer session, according to the school press release.
As part of the Health Choices program, eighth graders in Family and Consumer Sciences have been learning to cook with whole grains and to increase their use of fruits and vegetables.