- Author: Evelyn Morales
- Editor: Emily Harris
What does it mean to be healthy?
This was the question asked of 120 incoming high school freshmen attending the Summer Bridge Program* for Bullard High in Fresno, California.
In the first of the two sessions, students received EatFit workbooks and learned about setting goals and how to take steps to achieve their goals. Students were able to practice goal setting and develop major and minor fitness goals. In the second session, students were split up into groups and visited multiple stations, each pertaining to different nutrition topics. Stations exposed students to label reading with grains, protein, and sugar-based drinks.
At the final station, we sat down with students and asked them to respond to the following questions:
Is being healthy important to you?
Out of the 90 responses we received, 80 students (89%) responded, "Yes," it was important for them and 10 students (11%) responded, "No," it was not important to them.
We also asked: What does it mean to be healthy?
Being Healthy: 41%
"Being healthy means eating the right foods and getting good exercise."
This was the most common response from the students. Answers from this category consisted of students making better food choices, eating less junk food, being active, living a long, happy life and having a well-balanced life. Students also mentioned aspirations to travel and meet career goals as motivation to be healthy.
Playing Sports: 18%
"To play sports such as soccer, football, track, and cross country."
This group was made up of students who said being healthy meant doing well in sports and being physically fit. Most mentioned sports they currently play or sports teams they hope to be a part of in high school.
It's not important to be healthy: 11%
"Being healthy at an old age is important, but at a young age not necessarily."
Most of the students in this group answered by generally saying they didn't care about being healthy or that they felt it wasn't important to worry about being healthy right now. In one response, a student mentioned that it was important to take care of your body, but not until old age.
"[So] you don't end up in the hospital sooner."
These students made a connection between being healthy and getting sick or developing a disease. Students talked about wanting to live a healthy life and not wanting to end up in the hospital. The most common diseases mentioned by students included high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.
"Being healthy is having a good body."
Ten percent of students mentioned weight status and fat in relation to being healthy. Most responses included students making a weight loss goal or wanting to lose weight.
"If I am healthy, I get to live longer and spend more time with my family"
Students also mentioned their family and their families' health as the definition of being healthy. Some students mentioned helping their family make healthy choices while others talked about not wanting their family to get sick.
What does this information tell us as nutrition educators?
In this small sample, most incoming freshmen were able to say,"yes, being healthy is important," along with a reason why it was important to them. So what does that information mean to us as nutrition educator's? It actually leads to another question: what can we do to help high school students reach their goals for healthy living? Perhaps this is the first of many conversations we need to have with students in this age group. This is also good information for Fresno Unified School District and the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program as we embark on our second year of implementing the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement district wide. In the fall we will be diving into high school campuses and cafeterias. How can we provide the best information and resources to help students reach their goals to live healthy lives? Personally speaking, I'm excited to head into the uncharted waters of the high school campuses for the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement. This can be an opportunity where our UC CalFresh team can impact students and the way they think about health.
What do you think it means to be healthy? Let us know in the comment section below.
*The Summer Bridge program provides resources for students who could benefit from additional support in the transition from middle school to high school. The UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program worked with Bullard High counselors to teach lessons from the EatFit curriculum to students attending the summer session.
- Author: Emily Harris
- Contributor: Evelyn Morales
Developed out of Cornell University, the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement (SLM) seeks, “to equip school lunchrooms with evidence-based tools that improve child eating behaviors and thus improve the health of children.” This year Fresno Unified School District embarked on its second year of a five-year plan to bring the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement to every school in the district.
What's for lunch? Look no further than the Tomahawk Cafe menu board.
Presentation goes a long way to make healthy foods appealing to students.
Nutrition education can take place in the cafeteria.
The Fresno Unified Nutrition Center partnered with UC CalFresh and the Dairy Council to implement SLM in all 16 middle schools this school year. Smarter Lunchrooms Manager, Danette Whitfield, took charge of assessing schools to amplify their strengths and identify opportunities for improvement based on the SLM scorecard system. District Supervisor, Morgan Terry, and District Registered Dietician, Amanda Harvey, took lead on meeting with administration and food service staff at each site to get them on board for the changes that would take place.
UC CalFresh's contributions to this movement included staff training and indirect nutrition education through improved lunchroom signage. All schools received revamped Welcome Posters, Lunch Menus and Menu Item Cards, all created to reflect nutritional information while incorporating school spirit, colors and mascots.
The real success came with the partnership and open-communication between the food service staff at each school site and the nutrition center management staff. As a result of the positive environmental changes adopted over the course of the school year, all 16 of the middle schools reached Gold status, which is the highest level on the SLM scorecard.
Fresno Unified has taken its first major steps to implement one of the largest Smarter Lunchrooms Movement's in the state by making these changes district-wide. There are always challenges to overcome when having the 4th largest school district in California, but the success seen in the 2015-2016 school year is just the beginning of the amazing changes we will see in Fresno Unified over the next few years.
- Author: Shelby MacNab
Building Smarter Lunchrooms
One of the concepts from the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement has to do with branding and promoting cafeteria meals to increase participation and the consumption of healthy foods. Fresno Unified launched a new soft taco at Computech earlier this week. With just a few promotional signs and flyers, the tacos were a hit!
Join the Movement
The total cost to promote the new taco was just over $11. Low-cost promotions can help school food service departments encourage students to try new things.
UC CalFresh can provide technical assistance to help start a Smarter Lunchrooms movement in your cafeteria! If you'd like to join the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement in Fresno County, email Shelby MacNab at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
- Author: Shelby MacNab
- Author: Lynnette Brewer
Fresno Welcomes USDA Undersecretary Kevin Concannon
Fresno Unified is the largest school district in California to apply for the community eligibility provision. As the videos below demonstrate, the district is thrilled to offer meals to all students!
Smarter Lunchrooms Make a Big Impact at Computech Middle School
UC CalFresh has collaborated with FUSD on Smarter Lunchrooms efforts in the district, and was invited to work at Computech Middle School to make a few additions to the cafeteria to promote healthy foods.
Computech has a large cafeteria with a lot of room to feature student work, add items to the serving line, and promote healthy foods. The flow of meal service is very efficient, and the Noon Time Assistants at the school already do a fantastic job of setting up the lunch trays for meal service each day. After identifying many strengths at the site, our goal was to enhance and build on those strengths. Working together we made a huge impact!
Below are some of the photos of the additions made to the cafeteria, along with the positive feedback we have already received from staff and students!
"The bowls look real nice, real fancy." -student, upon seeing tablecloths and clear fruit bowls replacing the tubs used.
"It looks really nice." -student, remarking on the changes made in the cafeteria.
"It makes me feel like I want to be in here." -Noon Time Assistant, commenting on the changes to the teachers' lunchroom
Future Collaborations Planned
UC CalFresh had a great time working at Computech, and looks forward to collaborating with FUSD Food Service staff at additional school sites early next year!
- Author: Shelby MacNab
- Author: Lynnette Brewer
UC CalFresh has been actively involved in the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, and recently had an opportunity to showcase the efforts underway in Fresno County!
What is a Smarter Lunchroom?
Simply put: it's a lunchroom that is designed to support healthy meal time choices.
Why? According to the Cornell University Center for Behavioral Economics (BEN), it comes down to the way we make choices. BEN center research shows that our environment shapes the way we decide what we want to eat. Thus, the way healthy foods are presented to students impacts the choices they make during meal time. With just a few small changes, such as switching the bowls used to serve fruits and vegetables, districts around the country have seen a spike in consumption of healthy foods during meal times. Read more about the national Smarter Lunchrooms Movement here.
Many partners, one goal
Many organizations in California have partnered with Cornell University's Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs to advance the movement in the golden state. Partners include the California Department of Education, the California Dairy Council, Kaiser Permanente, the California Department of Public Health, the California Endowment, California Food Policy Advocates and the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program.
Partners recently gathered for a Smarter Lunchrooms reception in Sacramento. During the reception, Tom Torlakson, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, reaffirmed his support for building healthier schools. Read more about the reception here.
At the reception, Fresno County UC CalFresh also presented highlights of local Smarter Lunchrooms efforts. Our posters are shared below.
Special thanks to all of the Community Education Specialists, Fresno County administrators, teachers and food service staff invested in building healthier school environments!
UC CalFresh is thrilled to bring the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement to Fresno County schools! Are you interested in joining the movement? Please contact Shelby MacNab at email@example.com or 559-241-7531 to get involved.