The Adopt-A-School Program was created to support the various health initiatives lead by schools across North America. By providing fresh tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers on a regular basis, we not only introduce kids of all ages to new flavor experiences but also ensure that they are getting nutrition education at the same time. We have partnered with Giles Campus French Immersion Public School, home of the Giles Condors! They are a recipient of our fresh vegetable donation program and have started a daily breakfast initiative to jumpstart the student’s day. We recently had the chance to visit Giles Campus and see the action first hand. The following blog was written by Sonia Sovran, Grade 3/4 Teacher at Giles Campus explaining the importance of fresh veggies, and the positive impact Pure Flavor® is making.
Morning Nourishment for a Good Day of Learning
Students begin to arrive at 8:45 a.m. but the preparations have started way before then. Our breakfast carts are prepared bright and early every morning by our staff. As a school, we understand the importance of feeding our students healthy snacks and have since seen the benefits of doing such. Thankfully, so does our community partner Pure Flavor®, a local greenhouse specializing in growing fresh and flavorful vegetables.
Bonjour Monsieur. Bonjour Madame. “Good morning Mr., good morning Mrs.”
Bonjour Mon Ami! Comment ça va? “Hello my friend! How are you doing?”
Ça va bien et vous Monsieur et Madame? “I’m doing well and how are you Mr. and Mrs.?”
These are our greetings every morning by the rush of students who visit our breakfast nutrition program. This daily connection piece is vital for our students and our staff. In a socioeconomic diverse school with varying backgrounds, this very short encounter helps set the tone for the day. We have come to realize that positive academic outcomes follow positive well-being outcomes.
As soon as our students enter the school, they make their way to our breakfast carts with backpacks in tow. Down the hallways, they come to find the breakfast carts full of Pure Flavor® fresh vegetables and other healthy breakfast options.
Awaiting our elementary students are healthy options such as Pure Flavor® Sangria Medley Tomatoes, Mini Cucumbers, Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers, bananas, cheese and bagels. A sure hit is the Pure Flavor® veggies! They have been such a great component. The kids love them! The pop in the mouth bite-sized tomato is so tasty and fun! Or the crunch of the mini cucumbers is extra delicious when no peeling is required. Just grab and go!
S’il vous plaît …… Merci “Please…..Thank you.”
As they turn away with food in their hands, you know at the very least they have been fed. And let our staff tell you, does it ever feel satisfying. Being able to do this for our students will be a forever feel good memory.
Serving the Needs of our Students
The way our breakfast nutrition came to be was from an accidental “a-ha moment”. Initially, our nutrition program consisted of bins being delivered to each classroom just before the first nutrition break – two hours after students have already been at school.
At our elementary school, one of the social-emotional techniques we use is an emotional check – a system which has students indicating what emotion they are experiencing at different points of the day. During one of the check-ins, a student asked if we could include a HUNGRY emotion. Once that HUNGRY emotion was added, approximately a third of the class checked in on HUNGRY.
WHAT!! We didn’t get it. When asked what was going on, we got the following responses:
“I don’t eat before school.”
“We don’t have enough food.”
“I’m not that hungry first thing but after I come to school, I am hungry.”
“We don’t have time.”
Shocked and in disbelief, we then realized whilst we were feeding our students, they were waiting two hours to get the first morsel of food in their growing bodies. Hence, the breakfast nutrition program was created.
That is when Pure Flavor stepped in to support our school and have committed themselves to support the healthier lifestyles of our students.
Student Benefits of Starting the Day Well Fed
Research indicates that students can learn better when they are well-nourished. Studies have shown that students achieve higher academic success, improvement in social, emotional, and physical well-being, increased attentiveness, and increased energy and alertness. As a staff, what we have noticed in our students aligns with what the research suggests.
- Increased energy
- Ready to start their academic day
- Sustained focus
- Increased alertness
- Students are recognizing what good food choices are
- Kids being content
- Fewer behaviour incidences
- Increased manners – Please and Thank You!
- Gratitude from the students
- Smiles (Who doesn’t appreciate a Smile – They’re Free!)
Any food that is left over from the morning rush is put in bins and sent to the office for any student who needs more fueling during the day. Students are welcomed to come down during nutrition break and are permitted to leave class anytime to come and get something to eat. By 1:00 p.m. the lunch rush hour is complete, and all bins are returned empty waiting to be filled for the following day.
Now for the moment of truth! Would you like to know the effect of having a breakfast nutrition program full of Pure Flavor veggies? The following are a few statements from our students:
“It’s like eating a rainbow.”
“I don’t have time to eat in the morning and I get really hungry. I am thankful that there is food waiting for me.”
“I am always excited to see what food will be waiting for us.”
“The teachers are funny when they are giving out food. One teacher is always singing or doing something funny.”
“I’m learning about new foods.”
“I think it’s cool that people care enough to donate food.”
“Having healthy food helps me concentrate.”
“Before it was hard to pay attention because I was looking at the time waiting for nutrition break. I was that hungry.”
AND THAT IS WHY WE DO IT!
Pure Flavor® is a great community partner that continues to help support our healthy eating initiatives with fresh and flavorful greenhouse grown vegetables. We consider them to be one of our most valued partners in our quest to keep students energized, focused and on a healthy path to success. We are so grateful for their generosity and willingness to give to our kids and look forward to a healthy future!