I just finished teaching using your curriculum materials, and it was engaging and inspiring. The responses from my students and their families have been heartwarming. One mother called to thank me relating that her daughter has been cutting up vegetables for snacks, helping to cook dinner and teaching her about sugar and food additives.
One of the extensions we did was to have a local chef who is committed to sustainable food practices videotape herself shopping at our local farmers market and discussing the choices she was making and what was available. We love that students are learning about the social and economic impacts of food in addition to the nutritional aspects.
I also wanted to share some of the responses from students with you. When we were talking about processed food, one boy raised his hand and said “So basically McDonalds is using our bodies for profit?” Talk about higher order thinking! A response to one of my test questions about school lunch was “It’s unhealthy! I want there to be different choices of fruits and veggies. And I would like it if there were REAL fruits and vegetables and not fruits and veggies that have been cut up and soaked in sugar water and wrapped in plastic. I don’t want food that has been soaked in grease and has so much fat that we need a longer recess to burn all the empty calories off. Don’t get me wrong, I love Taco Tuesday just as much as the next guy, but how about a whole grain shell, real 100% meat, and FRESH VEGGIES! Plus, who needs packaging? We could use glass plates and silverware. Instead, the landfill is getting bigger and bigger.”
One thing that was challenging for me was learning about our school district food service policies and how difficult it is for us to ensure we meet food safety standards. We don’t have a commercial grade kitchen thus all of our food is made off site and delivered via truck and stored in a warmer. Most of the schools in my district are in the same position. We don’t even have a dual sink at my school thus making it a code violation to prep food in our “kitchen.” For students this was challenging because they are excited about their new knowledge and want to affect positive change. When I looked in to the feasibility of converting our kitchen, I found that the cost would be prohibitive, around $50,000.
The following are Dropbox links to some videos students made during our unit:
Weighing it Out: http://db.tt/NyhgZmYT
Chef in the Classroom: http://db.tt/VOwb7taO A local chef and farmer came to class and helped us make spinach and kale calzones from scratch and a tossed salad with student-made vinaigrette using ingredients from our school garden and our local farmers market. We roasted red peppers for the sauce on the Bunsen burners in a science classroom.
Jen Vena Levesque
Sixth Grade Social Studies and Language Arts
Spring Harbor Middle School