The cost of a food budget, a small refrigerator, and bringing a guest speaker to the classroom is $485, including shipping for the ordered items and <a target="new" href="http://www.donorschoose.org/html/fulfillment.htm" onclick="g_openWindow('http://www.donorschoose.org/html/fulfillment.htm', 300, 800, 'fulfillwindow');return false;">fulfillment</a>.
Earlier this year I was handing out a snack of pretzels to my second graders as they were lining up for dismissal. I had a little left so I asked one of my students if he would like some more. "I still have what you gave me, Mr. Levin," he answered, showing me the inside of his pants pocket. "It's in here. I'm saving it for later, when I get home." As teachers it is sometimes hard for us to know exactly what is going on in our students' lives once they walk out the door at three o'clock. While the idea of my students' day-to-day struggles with poverty is never far from my mind, the thought that a child-size handful of pretzels could have some sort of long-term value...I didn't know whether to cry at the situation or laugh at the earnest look in his eyes as he wondered whether it was okay to have more if he still had the first handful. Over the last four years I have been both frustrated and appalled by the eating habits of my South Bronx students. I have come to the conclusion that their poor diets are the product of two key factors: poverty and ignorance. Around 97% of the students in our school qualify for free lunch. The more affluent students bring chips and/or cookies along with "juice" (colored sugar water) for a snack. Most of the kids bring no food and rely on the school for breakfast and lunch. In addition many of the students are in after-school programs, where they also receive a snack and dinner. In effect, the school has become their primary food source. The reality is that many students depend on the school for food. With money as an endlessly pressing challenge, other problems inevitably exacerbate the situation. Briefly these include: a language barrier for many parents (Spanish); inadequate or inaccessible pediatric care; not-so-great food-shopping options; parents and/or guardians who are not informed about the basics of child nutrition. These factors do not describe everyone. There are some well-informed parents and many, many caring parents who would probably do more if they could. Enough sociology. So what can we do? For the last four years I have attacked this problem by providing modest and healthy daily snacks for my students. There is a well-known food store in Manhattan called Fairway where I have been able to buy basic, inexpensive items like peanuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, apples, bagels, etc. for not too much money, on a weekly basis. I couple these snacks with a few rudimentary lessons about nutrition. Mostly what I've been doing is "giving a man a fish" rather than teaching someone "how to fish." What I am proposing to do this year, as a trial program, is to work pro-actively to improve the diet and nutritional awareness of my 2nd grade students and their families. Through Fairway, I would like to purchase, on a weekly basis, a school year's worth of healthy snack foods. This will enable the class to explore the countless healthy foods that I have eyed jealously every year as I walked out with my bags of peanuts. (Ummh, red pepper!) The nice thing about these kids is that they will try and also eat most everything. They are not picky! In addition I have arranged with the New York University Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health to have an expert in health education come to speak to the kids (and their parents) 3 times during the school year. In fact, the person I've lined-up is actually a young man who grew up in The Bronx and made it all the way to NYU. Expertise aside, he will be an excellent role model and he also speaks Spanish. I am also hoping to get a small refrigerator where I can store perishables. My plan is to start to change the snacking and eating habits of the families in my class. One goal is to teach the children how to read food labels and then take them on a field trip to the store where they can do some 'healthy shopping." They will also keep an ongoing food journal. I have always believed that proper eating is a key component to not only health but also academic success. Sugar water and cookies is no way for a child to start the school day. I am hopeful that this plan will have long-term academic as well as health benefits. Many of us take "eating right" for granted. We have the money, the knowledge and the availability of healthy foods. Let's try and help the children and families who don't have those advantages. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
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|Vesnier Lugo/New York University Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, Office of Wellness Learning ( Three &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot;classroom&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;quot; visits to 1. introduce the basics of healthy eating; 2. meet the class for a field trip to the store; 3. Sum up what we've learned and plan for the future.)||$240.00|
|Sanyo - 4.3 Cu. Ft. Compact Refrigerator - White • Best Buy||$129.99||1||$129.99|
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