Fort Collins middler schoolers taste test new salads

Spinach salad with strawberries, feta and chicken or a healthy taco salad? If you were a middle school student, which salad would you vote for as a school lunch option?

Students at Boltz Middle School got to make that choice by participating in a taste test of two salads created by Chef Joel Navejas from Whole Foods. The taste test was a collaborative effort between the Poudre School District Child Nutrition Department, Whole Foods and the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, sponsored by the Western Dairy Association. At Boltz, the Fuel Up to Play 60 team consists of a group of students working to encourage kids to eat healthier foods at lunch.

Wearing chef hats and aprons, Boltz Fuel Up to Play team members helped run the taste test by handing out samples of the two salads – taco salad and spinach salad with strawberries, feta and chicken –  to their friends during their lunch period. Students and staff voted for which salad they liked best and wanted to add to the school lunch menu. Not surprising, early indicators showed the taco salad was a hit with students while staff preferred the spinach salad.

“The taco salad has a lot of stuff in it. I like this because it has a lot of different flavors,” said Luke Gilliland, eighth-grader.

After the votes were tallied, taco salad won with 120 votes, while the spinach salad garnered 43 votes. Fifty people did not have a preference and voted for the “both” category.

Jamie Quiros, Boltz Spanish teacher and advisor to the Fuel Up to Play 60 Team, said the salad taste test was a result of survey feedback from students.

“The team did a survey about what food students like and what food they would like to see more of,” said Quiros. “Students said they would get the salad bar if it looked better. We’re focusing on eating healthy and also the presentation of food.”

Navejas anticipates taste tests at other schools and hopes to eventually offer a collection of healthy recipes to all schools. Learn more. 

Is your Colo. school a healthy schools champion?

Complete the score card with a team at your school by Jan. 10  and your school will be in the running for recognition and a monetary award. The score card is the tool used to recognize champions for creating healthy schools. The score card assesses your school based on best practices in the eight components of Coordinated School Health. The card includes questions about your school health policies and programs, and also has a place for you to share successes. Find out more about this Colorado Coalition for Healthy Schools initiative. 

Study: Affluence affects students’ fitness, obesity levels

Far more students in affluent California districts passed the statewide physical-fitness test and are considered a healthy weight than students in low-income areas, according to recent reports by the Los Angeles Times and The Bay Citizen.

The L.A. Times reported last week that only 4 percent of children are considered obese in the wealthy, largely white area of Manhattan Beach, compared wth 36 percent of students considered obese in the low-income, largely Latino Bell Gardens. Read more in this EdWeek blog. 

Battle to stem childhood obesity expected to be focus of 2012

New research shows that kids who eat school lunches are more likely to be obese than kids who bring lunch from home. The battle to cut back childhood obesity is expected to be of increasing importance in the next few years.

Check out the full report on Public Radio International.

Colorado Action for Healthy Kids holds roundtable in Windsor

Learn how to increase healthy food options and opportunities for physical activity in your school community. Find out what other Northern Colorado schools and parents are doing to improve student health. Share successes, challenges, tools and resources with other school wellness champions. Childcare available for ages 5-12. Complimentary dinner provided. Reservations required.
 Register by Jan. 20.

Stats: 5-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25,  at the Windsor Recreation Center
, 250 N. 11th St., Windsor.

Find out more and register today.

Let the kids play: They’ll do better in school

First Lady Michelle Obama may be on to something with her unflagging “Let’s Move” admonitions – the latest research shows that physical activity may help children do better in school.

Amika Singh, a senior researcher at VU University in the Netherlands, reports in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine that physical activity is associated with better academic performance, as measured by higher GPAs and better scores on standardized tests. She and her colleagues reviewed 14 studies, some of which simply recorded the amount of physical activity that children, parents or teachers reported that youngsters got over three days to seven days prior to the study, and some of which randomly assigned students to varying amounts of exercise a day. Taken together, the studies showed that the more physical activity the children had, the higher their scores in school, particularly in the basic subjects of math, English and reading. Read more in this TIME Magazine Healthland report.

Lessons from declining childhood obesity in New York

The New York City Health Department reports that rates of childhood obesity are falling.

If the rates were staying constant, I’d consider it a step forward. But these results show rates going down, even if only by a few percentage points. Read more in The Atlantic. 

Tots who have poor relationship with mom find refuge in food

Tots who have a poor relationship with their moms are more likely to be obese by the time they turn 15, a new study shows.

So just how does a toddler’s less-than-stellar relationship with mom affect risk for being obese as a teen?

The reasons are not fully understood, but study researchers suggest these toddlers, when coping with stress, may begin to use food as a source of comfort in place of mom at a very early age. The findings appear in the January 2012 issue of Pediatrics. Read more in WebMD. 

L.A. schools’ healthful lunch menu panned by students

It’s lunchtime at Van Nuys High School and students stream into the cafeteria to check out the day’s fare: black bean burgers, tostada salad, fresh pears and other items on a new healthful menu introduced this year by the Los Angeles Unified School District. Read more in the Los Angeles Times. 

Chronic school absenteeism linked to mental health problems

Children who miss school often are more likely to have symptoms of mental health problems as teens, a new study finds.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles and colleagues compiled information on 17,000 students in grades 1 through 12. Read more from Yahoo News.

 

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.