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Healthy in the Cafeteria

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LEADING THE WAY

Posted October 1, 2012

 

The Oklahoma City Public Schools Child Nutrition Services has changed in recent years.  Schools meals have become healthier and more appealing.  We have been working very hard to reduce saturated fat, sodium, and increase the offerings of fruits and vegetables. Also we have partnerships with the Made in Oklahoma Coalition and Department of Agriculture to increase our student awareness of foods that are locally produced. 

For our elementary students this school year forty-eight elementary schools have been chosen to be a part of the United States Department of Agriculture Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program.  However, Child Nutrition Services will be providing this program to all OKCPS elementary students daily, including those schools not selected for the grant.  This grant provides children with a variety of free fresh fruits and vegetables to sample during the school day.  It is a creative way to introduce fresh fruit and vegetables as a healthy snack option, as well as educate children on the benefits of what they are consuming.

There are many goals of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, also known as FFVP, that Oklahoma City Public Schools wishes to achieve. Some of them include:

  • Providing healthier food choices
  • Allowing the children to experience a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Educating students on the benefits of including fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets
  • Increasing children’s consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Impacting present and future health of the children by making a difference in their diets

Each day, children in our district are given a small sample of a particular fruit or vegetable in order to introduce them to a variety of produce that they otherwise may not have the opportunity to try. In addition to the fruit or vegetable sample, they are provided information about it. The program is seen as an important facilitator for change in our efforts to combat childhood obesity by helping children learn healthier eating habits through education and taste testing.  

SMALL CHANGES, BIG REWARDS

Posted October 1, 2012

In the school year, 2012-2013, Ralph Downs Elementary School in Putnam City School District began scheduling recess before lunch in an effort to increase student food and nutrient consumptions at lunch. "As elementary educators, we know and understand the importance that nutrition has on the effects of effective learning experiences for children. Therefore, it was vital that we offer recess before lunch so that our students would take the appropriate time needed to eat a healthy and complete lunch.  We are already seeing the positive impact effects of our 'recess before lunch' model”, according to Stephanie Wallace, Ralph Downs Elementary School Principal.

Recent elementary school pilot projects have been conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness of recess before lunch. For example, in 2002-2003, the Montana Team Nutrition Program worked with four schools to evaluate implementation of a Recess Before Lunch (RBL) policy. Learn More.

“Though we have only just implemented recess before lunch this school year, we are already seeing students return empty trays, milk cartons, and drink more water,” said Kate Waring, Physical Education teacher at Ralph Downs Elementary School. “In addition to recess before lunch, we have been able to provide water coolers in the cafeteria to encourage water over sugary drinks. Both changes are small and affordable, yet are beginning to give us big rewards in improved behavior, better nutrition, and more students ready to learn when they return to the classroom.”

By moving recess before lunch and providing drinking water, Ralph Downs is proving that small changes to the environment can positively impact kid’s lives.