Desserts only on Friday

Posted: November 3, 2011

South Campus changes food policy

For the better or the worse?

By Elleni Oberle, Talon staff writer

Minnehaha Academy third grader was excited to have her birthday during school this year for the first time ever due to the earlier start date. To celebrate her birthday at school, Laura Maeda went to Barnes & Noble and picked out a book to donate to her class. The principle (and her father) Bruce Maeda was part of a committee that helped create a policy, which eliminated birthday treats from classroom celebrations.

Things are different at South Campus than in past years. Desserts are served once a week and classroom celebrations are limited to once per month due to a new policy. Students are no longer able to bring in treats for their class to celebrate birthdays. A committee of faculty and staff introduced the new policy this fall.

According to the Food and Nutrition Division of the Minnesota Department of Education, any school that participates in the Federally Funded School Lunch program was required to have a wellness policy by June 1, 2006.

The policy had to address goals for nutrition education, physical activity and include nutrition guidelines selected by the local educational agency for all foods available on each school campus.

“We looked at what we were doing and how we could make our school a healthier school,” said South Campus nurse Denise Benson. “One of the things was looking at the desserts, [and] not just the desserts but looking at what we could do to model better ways to be healthy.”

According to the new Lower and Middle School Health and Wellness Policy, Minnehaha is supposed to create a school environment that promotes and protects students’ health, well-being and ability to learn.

When asked what she thought about no desserts at lunch, third grade Abby Fields said, “I don’t too much like it.”

If students bring a lunch from home they are allowed to bring anything they want, including desserts.

“[At] South Campus we’ve made the changes, we do one treat a week,” said food service manager Karen Olson. Treats include pudding, sherbet, ice cream, and fruit.

North Campus students are still allowed to purchase desserts. They have the option between fruit or a dessert, but only one is included in lunch. There is a charge when students buy both fruit and dessert.

The Health and Wellness policy states that Minnehaha Academy recognizes a responsibility to promote a school environment that assists students in learning and maintaining lifelong healthy eating and lifestyle habits.

“Food is easy [to get], and we have food all the time and so I’ve had to rethink how I’ve rewarded or celebrated,” said Middle PE and Health teacher Mrs. Elhardt. “I need to be creative.”

The committee in charge of creating the policy used SHIP (Statewide Health Improvement Program) as a resource. The goal of SHIP is to help Minnesotans live longer, better and healthier lives by reducing the burden of chronic disease.

“I go down to the lunchroom and see what the kids are eating” said Benson. “And they are eating more [foods that will help them grow], better nutrients, they’ll feel better.”

Maeda brought a book on the Titanic, one of her favorites, for her class to celebrate her birthday.

“They [the class] were really excited to have a new book in the room” said third grade teacher Mary Jo Severson. “We put a library pocket in the back, with a library card that included all the names of the students who wanted to read it.”

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