If you’ve been following along on Facebook you may know that I recently helped start a “Healthy Child and Earth” committee at my daughters’ elementary school. Some readers have expressed interest in understanding how the committee works and also what initiatives we are planning to tackle, which is what I want to share with you today.
First of all, like most people, I am good at complaining when something isn’t exactly going my way. But I know that complaining isn’t going to get me anywhere unless I actually try to do something about it. For every parent that has written in and told us their school/daycare serves the junkiest snacks or the worst lunches, the first thing I usually ask is if they could possibly band together with other like-minded parents to do something about it. Change has to start somewhere.
Two Years in the Making
As we all know though, change doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve actually had my eye on making some changes at our school for 2 years now (since my oldest started kindergarten). But I had never before been part of a PTA/O, much less did I know how all the committees worked, so I kind of sat tight and purposely just observed for a while. And what I observed, cafeteria food aside, was the constant use of junk food for student rewards and classroom activities. Then, the following year (last year), another mom and I attempted to form a committee together, and we also tried to get in front of the teachers to talk about some of our ideas…but to no avail. Needless to say we didn’t get very far despite our efforts.
Then this year we finally started getting some traction. Over the summer this other mom and I invited all the interested parents we could think of to have a little pow wow at my house. During this brainstorming session we realized that half the group was part of the school’s already established “Go Green” committee, so one mom had the brilliant idea to just expand that committee’s initiatives to cover the nutrition aspect as well. Bingo! That was the idea we needed to really get things off the ground.
Our New “Healthy Child and Earth” Committee
So as a result of combining the two committees together, the “Healthy Child and Earth” committee was born. And as it turns out…just expanding an already existing committee was a whole lot easier than getting approval to start a brand new one (not to mention we now had enough interested parents to back it up). Together our new group came up with a list of the top initiatives we’d like to tackle this school year and then, after our principal approved most of our ideas, a few of us met and each volunteered to help with the different responsibilities.
Below is the list of our top 2012 – 13 initiatives, as well as a progress update, from just the “healthy” side of our committee (along with attachments if applicable!). Also, stay tuned because our team assistant, Jill, plans to share some of the great things that are going on at her kids’ elementary school along with how she is utilizing the helpful resources available on the Food Day site in an upcoming blog post.
Our Committee Initiatives (from the “Healthy Child” side only)
- Provide awareness and education school-wide
- Reduce junk food in the classroom
- Offer healthier food options at the monthly “Terrific Kids Breakfast”
- Add non-fast food options for our school fundraiser “Spirit Nights” (like bowling, Earth Fare café, or roller skating)
- Plan a “Healthy Child and Earth” week-long themed event in April (aligned with Earth Day)
- Research possible grant opportunities
- Think of ideas and criteria to reward healthy classes
- Poll teachers/staff/PTO for additional ideas and opportunities (pending approval…we also wanted to survey parents, but that was not approved at this time)
- What we’ve accomplished so far:
- Set up a table at our school Meet and Greet (a.k.a. Open House) in August where we handed out healthy snack lists and recruited a few new parents for our committee [Download: Healthy Snack List]
- Presented our Non-Food Reward List, Healthy Snack List, and Nut-Free Healthy Snack List at both the school-wide room mom meeting and the teachers’ staff meeting (yay!) [Downloads: Non-Food Reward List, Healthy Snack List, and Nut-Free Healthy Snack List]
- Submitted helpful tips to be included in the email newsletter that goes out to parents every week [Download: First 8 tips (list includes both green and healthy tips)]
PLEASE share your healthy school ideas and initiatives in the comments!