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MRH is committed to the health and well being of its students. The district meets this goal in a number of ways, but having healthy food is central to this belief. In addition to providing healthy food, the district also helps teach students about nutrition and healthy food choices. Here are some of the innovative ways that MRH does this:
Healthy Eating with Local Produce
The Healthy Eating with Local Produce, an award-winning program, is grant supported and started during the 2009-2010 school year. Through this program, the district is replacing many processed foods on school lunch menus with locally grown, fresh produce through a partnership with Saint Louis University, the Missouri Farmers’ Union, and Sappington Farmers Market. Through the innovative program, SLU nutrition and dietetics students and interns will prepare the local produce for the lunches at MRH. By the end of the three-year grant, at least 25% of the food the district serves will come from local farmers. Check out the H.E.L.P. website.
For many families in the district, it’s a struggle to afford food. The free breakfast program helps ensure students begin the school day well fed and ready to learn.
Fruit or Vegetable of the Month
Each month the menus focus on one seasonally appropriate food. Nutrient and other fun facts are included in the menu, which means that students are even learning during lunch.
Meet the Farmers
Photos and facts about the growers reiterate the district’s Seed-to-Table concepts present in the curriculum. Plus, it puts a face to the people who grow the food, and how far the food travels.
Over the summer high school students learn culinary skills at SLU and during the school year, they work with MRH staff in preparing some of the foods to be served in the school cafeterias. You can read their blog here.
Local Food Events
The district is working with community organizations in hosting and/or promoting food events, like the recent movie night. From offering a class through The Heights to participation at the Maplewood Farmers’ Market, this helps get parents, kids and other community members involved.
Once a month, MRH invites local chefs to the schools to expose students to new foods and preparation methods (see example here). This also helps build relationships with local businesses.
Part of a Continuum
These changes are built upon other programs the district has implemented in recent years that aim to teach students and their families about health, healthy lifestyle choices, sustainability, and a deep understanding of where our food comes from. These programs include:
Four gardens at the district help educate students about the natural world around them. The focus is on nature, life cycles, and nutrition, and students are immersed in health literacy throughout the garden curriculum.
The MRH Chickens
Students learn about nutrition, the food cycle, and more, from the youngsters at the Early Childhood Center who help with the care of the chickens, to the older student “chickenologists” who promote the value in raising backyard chickens. Read more.
MRH has made a concerted effort to cut back unhealthy foods in other places: vending machines, staff and other meeting foods, and even school fundraisers.