Last November, after seeing a lunch tray after lunch tray packed with unhealthy food, I decided to line up in the school lunch line and take a few pictures for a week of student lunch trays. I presented these pictures to my class with the question, “How can we make these school lunches healthier?” It was perfect timing since we were three weeks into persuasive essay writing unit about health issues. The idea of making school lunches healthier easily tied to the knowledge students accumulated in researching why you should eat less sugar, why you should eat more vegetables and fruits, and what healthy eating actually does for your body.
The students had two days to use their knowledge to analyze a school lunch tray, research reputable sources, share the positive aspects of it, offer healthier substitutions, and show possibly a bigger solution to solving the problems they witnessed. Our superintendent was eager to hear the fourth graders ideas, so we set up a time for the students to come to school dressed in their best to present their 2-3 minute persuasive presentations individually to the superintendent. Students practiced greeting the superintendent, presenting their information in a thoughtful and engaging way, and thanking him for his time. They were asked a few questions and felt so valued to have their voices hear and to be part of the solution.
These fourth graders are now seeing positive school lunch options and couldn’t be more excited about it. They are so eager to share what changes they are making in food selection with students in other classes and their families at home. From the old lunch trays piled with carbs to the new lunch trays with balanced healthy options no one in class is heard saying anymore while doing the research, “Look at this food on the lunch vendor’s website for adults. They must not care about the kids.” The students feel valued and healthy. A huge thanks to our superintendent for the opportunity to allow our fourth graders to be heard. Also a huge thanks to our fourth graders who took this research seriously and presented some convincing essays. You inspire. It’s a great reminder for all of us to choose the healthier options. Thanks for inspiring healthy teachers and students.