The “Healthy Child and Earth” Committee at our School

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!

 

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  • Comments

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy) |

      Hello Kerry. Finding an ally in the PTO/PTA and assessing whether school nutrition, parent education on nutrition, lunch packing and healthy snacking, school gardening, etc. are on their radar. Knowing this will give you an indication of what your starting point should be. Food Day: http://www.foodday.org/ has an excellent curriculum and resources that can be customized to different age groups. Also, not sure if you saw Lisa’s recent post on our school assembly: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/04/19/how-to-talk-kids-about-real-food/. Best of luck getting started. ~Amy

    2. |

      Right now it appears like WordPress is the top blogging
      platform out there right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

    3. Shannon Nault |

      Check out http://www.spiritmonkey.com! It was started by a PTA mom in San Antonio as a non-food reward system that has blossomed into a fun, customizable, collectible to remember their school years by.

    4. Jennifer |

      I LOVE the part above about complaining. All too often I would hear other parents complain, yet they never spoke up when needed and they wouldn’t get involved. As a parent of kids with food allergies I was excited to see you included the nut free list. When my kids were still in school (homeschooled now) I implemented a lot of things regarding removing the abundance of foods brought into the classroom, not only because my kids had food allergies, but because they just don’t need all the junk food rewards and celebrations. Keep up the great work!

    5. Brenda Sale |

      The Fuel up and Play 60 (mentioned above) has Grant dollars avail for fruit and vegetable consumption and activities. Local County extension office often will collaborate on these grants. You can have another partner in making these changes and help get a program started. Website to find the nearest extension office in your state. Ask them about Fuel up and play 60 or about partnering in a school nutrition program. http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/

    6. Heather |

      Hi There!

      Any suggestions on how I can get something started at my son’s school? What would be the very first step? In other words, do you have any ideas on how I could contact or recruit interested parents at his school? Do I make a flyer to hand out with permission from the principal? I would love to start a committee and start making big changes! Thank you for the inspiration!

      -Heather

      • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy) |

        Hi Heather. I would start with the PTO/PTA and see how they go about forming committees. They will also have a direct line to both school administration and parents. ~Amy

    7. Jess Brookshire |

      I think this whole idea is FANTASTIC! I follow this blog daily, and love the posts and ideas I get from them! That being said, I’m really curious about the “school-wide room mom meeting.” Why is it just a “mom” meeting instead of a “parent” meeting? Are dads not able to participate?

      • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy) |

        Hi Jess. Dads are welcome, of course. It just usually ends out being a group of moms. :)

    8. Nicole |

      I am working with our school to do something like this, thanks! Is there a way Lisa can share more information so others don’t have to “reinvent the wheel”? The weekly tips are great but only a week or so is posted here. Also the initiatives for 2013-14 would be so helpful. Thanks!

    9. Erica kramer |

      Hi you mentioned in a face book post about your
      Winter garden at school can you explain that a
      Little more I am trying to start a similar group
      In our elementary school

      • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy) |

        Hi Erica. The garden club was actually born out of this committee. The school approved a section of their grounds which we tilled, planted and cared for along with the children that signed up to attend our after school garden club. The club met once a week. We started seeds indoors in the classrooms and planted once the most frigid weather passed. Lisa, myself, and 3 other moms planned the curriculum and mixed in cooking, crafts, school grounds beautification, etc. We just wrapped up a few weeks ago. Hope that helps. ~Amy

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