Big changes are happening in Trenton – salad bars and fresh fruits & veggies are in high demand!
This year, 9 of the 15 elementary schools in the District are applying for the Fresh Fruits and Veggies Grant, which will bring healthier snacks to their students at times other than breakfast and lunch. While we celebrate the opportunity for our elementary school students we do not want to forget the importance of fresh fruit and veggies for our teenagers! The salad bar that will be installed at Trenton Central High School-West will be the fourth salad bar we’ve provided to the district in two years. This healthy food movement changing our districts culture for the better – the importance of having healthy food for students to eat, both for their health and their academic performance, is being recognized!
The New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids – Trenton had its very first District Wellness Committee meeting on April 11th. The Committee aims to pass a District-Wide wellness policy to foster a health-centric culture within Trenton public schools. To start off, they’ve created a survey that will capture each schools readiness and ability to implement more physical activity and increase the consumption of healthy foods. This idea took off quickly, and the following Monday, the Committee met with the Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Office to present their idea for the survey, as well as discuss the creation and adoption of a district wellness policy. It was well-received, and later this week, they will receive feedback on the survey. The first reading of the proposed District Wellness Policy will be later this month.
It is no hidden secret that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Thanks to partners and funders from New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Camden and ShapingNJ, we begin the morning by providing every student with a healthy, well-balanced breakfast at Rafael Cordero Molina School. Our breakfast program success is attributed to teamwork and consistency displayed by the entire staff at Molina. The lunch aides, teachers, and maintenance staff work effortlessly in delivering, serving and cleaning up after breakfast.
Before Molina adapted the breakfast-in-the classroom program, a meeting with the food service staff was scheduled to explore how the program could be successfully implemented. Once the food service staff and administration were able to delineate procedures and highlight possible obstacles that could affect the implementation of the program, the vision was communicated to the entire staff during a faculty meeting. Questions and concerns were acknowledged and answered to ensure the staff bought into the new initiative. At Molina, staff buy-in is vital as the staff is the driving force of Molina’s mission.
At Molina, the breakfast service is seamless by all involved. Breakfast is delivered to the classroom by 8:15am and ends no later than 8:45 am so that instruction can promptly begin on time. In a snapshot, the breakfast-in-the-classroom program at Molina is successful because everyone is willing to help out where needed. It ensures that students are provided with the necessary nourishment required for a healthy jump-start of the day.
The selection committee has chosen the historic sites for the trail, permanent signs for each site are being ordered and the H.I.K.E. t-shirts are being designed for the big launch day. We’re very excited to see this project come together with the help of our partners.
As a preview of what’s to come, we want to share the first, and possibly most obvious, historic site, which is (drum roll please)….
The summer is here and we are ready to have everyone living “A Healthier U” through H.I.K.E. – Healthy Initiative to Keep Exercising!
The Y is committed to strengthening community through youth development, HEALTHY LIVING and social responsibility.
In our first blog, we explained that we are working with the Voorhees Transportation Center (VTC) to supplement the ShapingNJ mini-grant. As part of the data collection, VTC provided us with a tally sheet so that teachers can record how children travel to and from the three target schools. If most of them are driven, the researchers might suggest building a safe drop-off loop. However, if most students walk, then better crosswalks, flashing lights, and traffic patterns could be recommended.
VTC provided valuable insight into how data can often get confused when the respondents are young children. Kindergarten and first graders think concretely. When asked “Did you walk to school today?” they may answer “yes” because they walked from the parking lot to their classroom after being dropped off in a car. Similarly, few children are acquainted with the term “carpool”, and can get confused; more simply it can be explained as “driving to school with other people”. VTC offered the following suggestions for clarifying the various modes of transportation when speaking with children:
“Did you walk all the way from your house to school?” “Will you be walking from school all the way to your house?”
“Did someone drive you to the school parking lot?”
“When you came to school this morning, did you ride in a car with other kids who do not live in your house?” “When you go home today, will other kids in the car go to different houses?”
“Did you ride your bike to school this morning? Is your bike parked inside the school/on a rack in the school parking lot? Will you ride your bike home today, or will someone put it in the car and drive you home.”
School principals were grateful to have the suggestions compiled into a one-page instruction sheet that was passed out to teachers. Monument school was the first and we are awaiting the completed surveys from Wilson and Hedgepeth. We will be putting the numbers to work as soon as the walking audits are completed in May and use the information to guide the selection of mini routes around the schools.
NJ Partnership for Healthy Kids-Camden has partnered with the Camden Public School District and Aramark, its food service provider, to expand the universal breakfast program by providing alternative breakfast serving methods. We piloted the program at Forest Hill School (K-6) in September 2012 which yielded a participation rate from 52% to 71% by the end of the school year.
Our second pilot school, R.C. Molina School (K-8) rolled out its “Healthy Breakfast After the Bell” program in January 2013 and quickly accomplished its goal in 1 month. Its breakfast participation rate in 4 weeks increased from 54% to 85%. Molina’s quick success is attributed to strong leadership and complete buy-in from teachers and staff. Meetings between the principal, school staff and Aramark began before the program was implemented.