B y Jaime Thomas
Studies have shown that better nutrition leads to better performance in school, and Granville School administrators are taking initiatives to address this within their system.
The district recently received a $1,000 grant from Action for Healthy Kids, a leading national grassroots volunteer organization addressing the epidemic of childhood obesity and undernourishment, said Cathy Somich, school business manager.
Somich applied for the grant last December and was approved in early January. She thinks the timing of the grant, which comes in a school year in which federal mandates are dictating what is being served in schools, is good.
“It’s something I think we can do on the heels of child nutrition to get more information out to parents and to solicit more information from students,” Somich said.
The grant will provide such events as guest speakers for the children, and taste tests where students try different options and have a role in deciding what they are served in the future.
“It’s about trying different things and getting more involvement from everyone,” Somich said, adding that parents need to learn why nutrition for their children is so important. In turn, children need to have a voice in what they like or dislike and how it is presented to them.
The organization providing the grant will also fund a wellness challenge called Game On!
“When kids are well-nourished and physically active, they are more attentive, have fewer behavior problems, do better in school, and are more likely to stay healthy as adults. The program has been used in hundreds of schools across the country and has helped thousands of kids develop lifelong healthy habits,” according to actionforhealthykids.org.
While Somich acknowledges that not everyone is pleased with new school cafeteria mandates, she still believes it’s important for children to try healthy foods like yogurt, fruits, and vegetables when they’re young.
For this reason, the grant team chose Mary J. Tanner as the recipient. The team consists of Diane Dumas, Principal of Mary J. Tanner Elementary School; Tamme Taran, School Nurse and PTA liaison; Cathy Somich, Business Manager; Joanne Warner, Cafeteria Manager; Sandra Darius, Head Cook at MJT; and Nicole Walker, parent member.
“Mary J. Tanner Elementary School was selected as our target school because we can promote healthy nutrition options starting with our youngest student population,” Somich said.