Nutrition education big in city schools

On October 9, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

Corn shucking the old fashioned way, a great experience for kids learning about nutrition and health. ~Photo by Roxane Scrima.

Corn shucking the old fashioned way, a great experience for kids learning about nutrition and health.
– Photo by Roxane Scrima.

By Jim Clark

Children in Somerville’s elementary schools and the Capuano Early Childhood Center partook in an annual tradition aimed at educating them in the value of good nutrition last week, while having a ton of fun shucking corn in the morning and enjoying it on their lunch menu shortly afterwards.

On Thursday, October 3, the shucking activities also included the first ever Food & Nutrition Services Staff Appreciation Day. A breakfast was served at each school in honor of the daily work of FNS staff does in providing healthy meals to Somerville students.

According to Superintendent Tony Pierantozzi, “Somerville’s Food and Nutrition Services Department is a national leader in promoting healthy eating through innovative programs and education. The annual corn-shucking event is just one of the many ways in which our Food & Nutrition Services staff teach our students the tremendous value of healthy eating. Not only is our Food & Nutrition Services staff ensuring students are ready for a full day of learning by providing them with nutritious meals, they’re also fostering healthy nutritional habits that will last them a lifetime.”


– Photo by Roxane Scrima

Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone agreed. “Our Food & Nutrition Services Staff are vital to the daily lives and nurturing of our students, providing them with fresh and healthy meals in our schools, and they do so with happiness and pride that exudes confidence and keeps our young residents motivated to be healthy and eat well,” said the mayor. “We are fortunate to have some of the best staff in the nation helping us to continue our leadership in the fight against childhood obesity, and they are one of the reasons Somerville is seen as a model for school food service and curriculum. I want to sincerely thank each member of the staff for their hard work and passion for the important role they play in our community and across the country.”

“Between preparing healthy meals for our students, adhering to strict nutrition standards, and offering service with a smile, it’s no wonder we’re celebrating the Food and Nutrition Services staff,” Lauren Mancini, Food & Nutrition Services Director commented. “Every student we serve deserves and receives the highest quality food possible. The students we care for are a constant inspiration to do our best today and to strive to do better tomorrow. Our goal is to offer and serve Somerville students the best quality meal so they are able to enter the classroom ready to learn and succeed.”

The Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) department works tirelessly, providing healthy and nutritious food and beverage choices to students, while working with Somerville’s nationally-renowned Shape Up Somerville to help students make the healthy choice their first choice, and a lifestyle choice.

“This day acknowledges the excellent work every day from the Food and Nutrition Services staff. Eating balanced, nutritious meals at school (both breakfast and lunch) is crucial to students performing better in the classroom,” said Shape Up Somerville Director, David Hudson. “Somerville Public Schools is a national leader when it comes to school food, and we’re proud to support the staff of Food and Nutrition Services.”

Students throughout the district participate in Somerville’s universal breakfast program, and benefit from an outstanding lunch program that includes tasty and nutritious meals that are, in many cases, prepared with locally or regionally sourced products. Among the choices at most schools are a fresh salad bar option and plenty of fruits and vegetables.  Several schools also participate in the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program, which introduces students to the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables with a mid-afternoon fresh fruit or vegetable snack.

Students kicked off the day with  ears of corn to shuck, which they enjoyed as steaming corn on the cob at lunch later that day. This year, along with learning the delicious value of fresh, locally-sourced produce, they were also reminded of the “behind the scenes” staff members who help make sure they’re ready to learn every day by preparing meals to help them stay healthy and focused on learning.

“The value we collectively place on children and their health and wellness speaks volumes,” said Mancini. “My principal goals have always been and will continue to be to improve the nutritional quality of school meals while teaching students about the importance of healthful eating.  I personally want to say ‘thank you’ to my staff for their hard work and dedication.”



9 Responses to “Nutrition education big in city schools”

  1. A.Moore says:

    I hope they are keep a watchful eye on the food. I don’t know if it still happens but the kids used to throw away a lot of the food. And mostly what was good for them. It’s been a few years so I don’t know if they have worked on this problem or not. I do think they need to eat healthy.

  2. sonia says:

    I don’t see anyone wearing gloves in these pictures. I think we have a health code in place regarding the preparation of food.

  3. MarketMan says:

    A. Moore: I agree, but that’s a hard problem to solve if the familes don’t reinfornce healthy habits at home.

  4. A,Moore says:

    I know MarketMan but I know someone who had worked there. It’s just a shame they got to take the food and just toss it. I don’t know how it is handed out so I can’t add much to this but maybe they could find a beter way to hand it out or get the kids just to take what they want. I don’t know the answer. I had enough problems raising my own kid to eat right. And that was no easy task.

  5. tough one says:

    this is a tough one. we can teach and encourage, but in the end, can’t force feed them. true, if families don’t reinforce it, it doesn’t work. I, also, see the problem, but can’t come up with answers.
    Also, agree that plastic gloves are required here. random people shucking corn adds up to very scary bacteria possibilities.

  6. drew says:

    While nutrition is not unimportant, I think the schools spend too much time on social services, rather than education. I don’t think the schools should tell me how my family should eat. Public school kids have become prisoners in a grand experiment. It is done so that they will go home and tell their parents they are buying the wrong food, or whatever the message of the day is. I have a real problem with this.
    I agree about the kids tossing it. I have been in schools and witnessed kids tossing what they don’t like, even if they end up hungry later.
    Let’s face it, most healthy foods are more expensive. It would be nice if the government would focus on fixing the economy and creating jobs, rather than tell people who can’t afford healthy food that they should be buying it.
    Totally agree on the gloves….what were they thinking??

  7. Boston Kate says:

    I think that the no-gloves when shucking corn is permissible, (according to health codes) because it is going to be cooked.

  8. A.Moore says:

    drew, kind of a no win situation. I do want my kid to eat healthy, but when we are not with them most tend to eat what they want. I think the only way it would work is we go back to having kids go home for lunch. And we know that won’t happen. I am not sure how it is handed out now but it would seem to me to just let them pick what they want out of what’s there. I don’t know if it is a tray with certain things on it or what now since I have not been on there for years and my friend does not work there anymore. I tend to agree on the social services but I am old fashioned, I don’t want the school raising my kids. At least being able to spot abused kids and other important things I can’t bring to mind right now.

  9. so wrong says:

    Boston Kate, so wrong. all food prep requires gloves. are you quoting Health Codes, then saying ‘I think’. which is it?. The corn would have to be boiled at a certain temp, for a certain time, all ears submerged at all times to destroy bacteria. I don’t know any kitchen anywhere who would take this risk that an ear of corn didn’t get sterilized.

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