Sherwood students participating in the Eat to Learn program will not hear about the link between the fiber in cucumbers, healthy poop and a smart brain. Their principal decided it was not appropriate for morning announcements and censored the content. Food revolution attempt stymied again by an administrator who may be doing the right thing for teachers and test scores, but the wrong thing for student learning and health.
Poop Matters – Kids Should Know
I get that hearing a lesson about poop would get kids talking and asking questions. It might even cause a classroom disruption. Responses to curious students would eat into time for planned and required lessons.
But, I don’t know why it makes sense for a school to pass up an opportunity to teach a very important health lesson to students.
Do we really think that elementary students aren’t smart enough to handle information about poop, a normal bodily function, and use it to become better learners?
Do you know how many Americans suffer needlessly from constipation? Do you know how serious health concerns can become for people who suffer from constipation for years and years? Did you know that a real food diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables provides plenty of fiber to keep bowels moving, toxins removed and brains functioning properly?
Sherwood students won’t be learning it. Too bad. There would have been a captive audience of 400 students willing and ready to learn about how eating produce can keep their brains healthy by getting rid of toxins via regular bowel movements.
If you’re a Sherwood parent and want to share this important lesson with your child, here are the morning announcements for the vegetable of the week, cucumbers, as I wrote them.
Read on for an update on how Eat to Learn is changing kids eating habits in the Sherwood cafeteria.
Cucumbers Give Kids Healthy Poop and Smart Brains
Eat to Learn Status Update
Sherwood Elementary is in month 6 of the Eat to Learn program. Daily morning announcements began airing in October featuring one school food produce item each week. The goal is to link the fruits and vegetables students get in school food to learning. My theory was that if you make fruits and vegetables relevant to kids they will eat them.
What is more relevant to a student than brain power? Elementary students are hooked on learning. Why not link learning to real food and see if more goes down the hatch.
Fruit and Vegetable consumption Before and After
Eat to Learn seems to be working. Raw broccoli consumption on campus is up 80%. In the fall raw broccoli was not widely accepted. An average of 31 students, or 9% of cafeteria eaters, accepted broccoli in September 2010. The most recent data day showed 82 students accepted broccoli, a 164% increase in broccoli acceptance. This is a small victory, as we still have an average of 274 cafeteria eaters not accepting raw broccoli.
I had limited data to use to compare before and after fruit vegetable consumption. I did not receive data for each fruit and vegetable covered in the program. I also did not get the same number of data points for each type of produce, so drawing conclusions was a less than scientific. Here is what the data I have could show:
- Fresh Fruit was widely accepted by 49% of cafeteria eaters before the program. There was a 14% increase in fresh fruit acceptability over the past six months. However, I have only three preE2L data points and 11 postE2L data points, so that conclusion may not trustworthy.
- Carrot sticks appeared to have wide acceptance before morning announcements began airing, and acceptance remains strong, but no significant change. An average of 135 students or 40% of cafeteria eaters accept carrot sticks as of Feb 2011.
- “Tossed Salad” (a bit of iceberg lettuce and a tomato slice) actually saw a decrease in acceptability (40%) over the data period, but the food service folks tell me that’s probably due to poor lettuce quality in the winter months due to freezing temps. Kids don’t eat brown lettuce. Or boring salads with low quality tomato slices barely fit for hiding under a sandwich bun. Big surprise.
- Cooked broccoli also seems to show an increase (26%) but I don’t have before data, and with only two data points, I’m not sure how valid the conclusion is.
- Mixed Fruit (aka fruit cocktail in lite syrup) showed an increase (26%) but again, only 2 data points and neither were from before Eat to Learn launched.
My Question To Teachers
I have a question for teachers (past and present). If your school had a nutrition education program that talked about healthy poop, and your elementary students got curious and asked a bunch of questions all day, even into the next week about vegetables, fiber, poop and healthy brains, would you feel put out? Would you feel like valuable classroom time was wasted on an unnecessary health lesson? Would you feel overburdened by having to discuss something with your students that is the health teacher’s job, the nurses job, or the parents job? I’m truly interested in hearing from teachers who support and oppose nutrition education in the classroom.
My Question to Parents
Would you be put out if your child spent some time learning about how to improve their brain function by eating fruits and vegetables during their school day? Or, in other words, do you mind if your child has 10 less minutes for reading, writing and test preparation in order to get some nutrition and health education in the classroom?
See you in the comments!