The fifth graders of Lincoln Elementary Schools are learning and teaching the ABC’s of eating healthier foods, as well as decoding food labels. They are partnering up with different organizations to help educate other students and even parents about how important it is to eat right and exercise, and the importance of fresh healthy vending.
Nomar Tejeda, 8, challenged his friends to look at the long list of different names for sugar that can be found in soft drinks as they filed into their gymnasium. He stated that drinking 20 ounces of soda a day for seven days will result in the consumption of over 200 cubes of sugar. His goal was to help kids make better choices in the beverages they choose.
Mary Ellen Farrell says she sees the importance of teaching her students good nutrition and fresh vending choices during physical education. “Teaching students about nutrition goes hand in hand with fitness and physical education,” said Farrell. “As part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s call to eating healthy and get moving in schools, we are teaching our students during their P.E. classes about nutrition and linking this to fitness and gym lessons. Our Green Team students can not wait to present what they have learned to their parents and to the New Britain community.”
Displays, healthy snack foods and fresh vending, as well as activities, allow students to try fresh, organic vegetables provided by the Urban Oaks and Whitsons Culinary Group partnerships.
The program developed by the first lady “Let’s Move!” asks the schools in the nation to help battle childhood obesity. One in every three American children are obese. In New Britain, 30 percent of children who are 4 are obese, and 18 percent are overweight. Predictions also state that one out of every three children born in 2000 will develop diabetes. In Connecticut, over 230,000 people have some type of diabetes.
Jeff Taddeo, who is the culinary service director of Whitsons Culinary Group, is helping to change the school’s menu to include healthier foods. Whitsons have been using freshly grown ingredients and buying produce for years from Urban Oaks. Fresh healthy vending options are extremely important to the company.
“We’ve been introducing fresh organic food into the menu. At first it looks different, it taste different. We’ve been using a lot of the greens in our salads that the kids eat,” Taddeo said. “It’s important to get kids involved with healthy eating habits at an earlier age because it’s easier for them to change their eating habits. It’s equally important, although hard sometimes, to get their parents to eat healthier foods.”
Through a website offered by Whitsons, known as Nutri-Cafe (www.whitsons.com/nutrition),
students and parents can learn more about what is in their school lunches in the way of calories and nutrients.