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Third graders take the lead in transforming school lunches

When students are allowed to have a real stake in their education and learning environment, great things happen. That’s what happened at Parker Varney Elementary School in Manchester, where third graders presented their class project on improving the school meal program to City officials, reported NHPR. As a result, the school’s cafeteria was rebranded and revamped by a new food services company.

Fresh choices like salads and turkey dogs replaced humdrum old cafeteria food–all because students were given the opportunity to have their voice heard:

As part of a Parker Varney class project last year aimed at improving the school meal program, the kids did research, conducted surveys and presented their findings at City Hall. City officials were so impressed, they hired a firm to set up a kind of test kitchen at the school.

Sam Audet, a third grade teacher who led the project, says the students then presented their research to Cafe Services.

“The food sometime was soggy, so the kids didn’t want food like that. They wanted hot food that could be served right away,” says Misha Philippe, one of the leaders of the project.

The 9-year-old says the experience has changed her eating habits beyond school: “When I’m eating something, I think, ‘This is healthy and this is not healthy.’ So I try to eat the healthy stuff more often, and the less healthy stuff sometimes, once in a while.”

For the latest phase of the school project, 3rd-graders surveyed their peers about how they like the new fare. The results are encouraging: the kids prefer the new menu to the old stuff by about a 25-to-1 margin.

Project-based learning opportunities like this allow students to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to real-life situations, while developing the skills they need to succeed outside of school. Kudos to Parker Varney’s third graders!

Read the full article here.

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