Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a healthy school lunch program. But just offering one Farm to Plate lunch a month, or making the switch to organic milk, is a great first step. Check out these pieces of advice from KIWI’s Class Leaders and learn how to make healthy food choices for your school.
- Approach your principal with specific, positive suggestions—bonus points if you ask nicely.
- Volunteer your time and resources to help ease the transition. For example, offer to drive those great organic apples from the farm to the school.
- Research, research, research. Find out everything you can about your area’s legislation, funding options and local food providers (including farmers).
- Suggest changing your school’s schedule to put recess before lunch; studies show that when kids play before chowing down, they eat more and toss less food away.
- Start by eating lunch at your child’s school. This will help you parse out fact from fiction (kids say the darndest things about mystery meat!)
- Involve yourself with the PTA and attend the school district’s nutrition board meetings.
- Offer to train the kitchen staff—teach them to ditch the white bread in favor of whole wheat, and substitute chicken fingers for items that actually occur in nature.
- Contact those in charge and never give up—if one official pays little attention, then try another. They’ll care if you do.
- Wondering where to start? Try eliminating hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup.
- Get sneaky by putting the healthy ketchup (minus the added sugar) in a brand-name bottle. The kids won’t know the difference, but you will!
- Swap white for brown by including brown rice, whole wheat bread, and wheat pasta.
- Make lunch a school–wide affair by encouraging teachers, students and administrators to eat together. The kids will learn table manners and build a strong sense of community.
- A small change is better than nothing. Try ordering a single item from a healthy food provider—if the demand is there, they’ll cater to it.
- Set up a suggestion box in the cafeteria to let parents, teachers and kids weigh in on what they want. Feel free to ignore the third-grader lobbying for all French fries, all the time.
- Keep an open mind—no suggestion is too out there, no idea too idealistic. Consider all options and you’ll find the ones that best suit your school.
- Find another school or district that has already accomplished a food program you admire. Talk to them and find out how they reached their goals, then apply those suggestions to your own proposal.
- To amp up the nutrition curriculum at your school, try offering regular cooking classes for parents. Also consider revamping the students’ nutrition lessons or including local farmers in the classes.
- If you have the resources, hire a full-time project coordinator to institute changes in your school’s food program.