Thursday, May 7, 2015

Is It Lunch Time Yet?

As the internship is winding down, my partner, Colleen, and I are finishing up with one to two week community rotations. We spent this last week at OSSE (Office of the State Superintendent of Education) learning about school lunches in DC schools. In college I had learned a lot about the Healthy Schools Act of 2010, but never understood it completely. At OSSE we had the opportunity to meet with those at the front lines of this act and even visit schools that are doing well with nutrition and physical education. 
Apples to be served for lunch!

What is the Healthy Schools Act?
The Healthy Schools Act was created to establish nutritional standards for school meals, fundraisers, vending, marketing, and prizes to improve health and wellness for students and decrease hunger. It also encourages schools to participate in as many federal programs as possible and enhance the nutrition of meals served. 

Salad Bar at an Elementary School

Our week at OSSE
Day One:
Colleen and I arrived and met with members of the OSSE team to gain an understanding of everyone's role. The men and women at OSSE all play an essential role of implementing the Healthy Schools Act and monitoring schools compliance. Later on we visited one of the local schools to see how they carry out lunch. At this particular school, kindergarteners ate family style with food served on platters to tables. It was so interesting to see the students eat their sweet potatoes and grilled cheese like a little family!

The Sweet Potatoes about to be served for Lunch!

Day Two:
We met with two women who help with school's meal compliance and sustainability. We learned a lot about recycling and composting, and how students are helping schools "go green." In the afternoon we read over school wellness policies to see how they can improve to meet the Healthy Schools Act requirements.

Day Three:
This was one of my favorite learning experiences! We met at Revolution Foods, a school food service company, and toured the facility and learned about the healthy foods this company provides to schools in DC. We received samples of some of the foods served for snacks, and helped out by packing food trays for distribution. In the afternoon we visited an elementary school and assisted cafeteria staff in serving hot meals and salad. We interacted with the kids to gain an understanding of their thoughts and feelings about the meals.

Me helping serve salad to kindergarteners

Overall, this was definitely one of my favorite experiences. We were able to learn from the inside out how nutrition is being utilized in schools. sIt really is beneficial to get out in the field and see how nutrition is affecting the next generation!

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