More Thoughts on Nutrition in Schools

A few weeks ago I blogged about changing the way kids view healthy foods by introducing nutritious foods in schools. A lot of you agreed and made some great comments about different ways that schools can teach and integrate nutrition. Since then I’ve been on the
lookout for news related to the subject. I wanted to share some good articles that one of our interns brought to my attention.

The article School nutrition and gardening classes aim to grow healthy eating habits from the Chicago Tribune explains how many different organizations in the Chicago area are helping to educate school kids about nutrition. The methods and resources are far more robust than the nutrition lessons of the past that involved the old food guide pyramid and crayons. These new teaching methods are more hands on and all involve actually eating healthier foods and in some cases growing or preparing the foods as part of the lesson.

I think that these programs are really smart to take a more wide-scale approach to teaching nutrition, especially teaching to children. It’s one thing to talk about nutrition in a classroom, and even writing about it and drawing pictures doesn’t really seem to drive the point home quite enough. Actually eating these foods, liking them, and learning how to prepare them so that they can replicate or request them at home seems so much more efficient. Hopefully we begin to see more of these kinds of programs take affect all over the country.

While I think that everyone can agree that teaching nutrition in schools is very important, some say that nutrition education and obesity prevention should start even earlier. An article from explains how some San Francisco health advocates are arguing that nutrition intervention to prevent obesity in children needs to start with pregnant women due to recent study findings that many school-aged children are already obese.

I agree that any preventative intervention is better than corrective action, and I think that parents and pre-parents also need and deserve the kind of hands-on education that is being provided in some of the forward-thinking schools. Maybe Michelle Obama will help us fund such grand ideas?

It’s not just me that want healthier foods for school kids. An article from the Daily Herald, a local Suburban Chicago publication describes how three fourth grade girls started a campaign to try to get school officials to offer more healthful lunch options. This is really promising to me, kids wanting and asking grown-ups for healthy food; it makes me think that we can change the way that the future generations and see “good food”.

What do you think – can we change taste preferences by starting young?

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  • I just saw a post by Robert Young that claimed kids start their taste for foods while still in the womb. Of course this is based on the mother's diet. I blame the parents to start and school doesn't help much. But I see parents in my restaurant load there kids up on bottled juice, bread and other acidic foods. Even though I do serve healthier organic food parents will skip the green veggies and salads way too much.

    My daughter once told her friend that she not be drinking a certain juice because of the corn syrup it contained. Her friend went home and told her mom about this new info and the mom said it is perfectly fine to keep drinking.

    I think most parents think that young kids are immune to our dead and depleted food. But you just have to look at kids these days to realize that is not the case.

    However I do believe kids can improve their diets at any point. But parents, family, schools and other parents need to help with the cause.

    Marcus Guiliano
  • I think that children form relationships with food the same way that they form relationships with their extended environment. If you only present foods that come from packages or straight from the refrigerator, you basically strip the mystery and awe from eating, and leave the child with the impression that food 'just happens.' This is a huge mistake.

    So, yes, I think that preferences are shaped from a very young age, and evolve over time. I'm all about the gardening projects and hands-on programs for children. I also think that adults need to be immersed in the soil as much (if not even more so) as the kids. After all, a lot of us have completely lost touch with the process by which our food makes it to our plate.

    In the end, the more important this becomes to us adults, the more it will impact our kids. They are learning from us, and taking cues all the time.
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