Today researchers believe that even moderate under nutrition, the type seen in many of our Canadian schools, is a cause for concern. It affects the cognitive development of children and ultimately their productivity as adults. The poor eating habits and food insecurity faced by our children are becoming more and more common and a serious concern in our community.
As educators and parents we recognize that not all children arrive at school well-fed and ready to learn. There are many reasons for this. In addition to financial reasons, many children travel to school by bus and don’t like to eat before riding the bus to school. Both parents work and getting everyone ready for the day ahead is sometimes difficult. As a result, breakfast is often sacrificed. We also know that many children don’t like to eat when they first wake up. When they are finally hungry, they are already in school. It is our wish that by providing a morning snack we can address some of these issues.
At Hillside we are attempting to influence and change the eating habits of our students through a two part process; a mid-morning snack and a nutrition program.
Each morning all Hillside Community School children, receive a healthy mid-morning snack that consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meat and grain products on a rotational basis. Parent volunteers and a food provider prepare and distribute the snacks daily. Through the project, staff and parents have noticed an increase in the children’s ability to concentrate on their work, more energy to learn and play, a desire to try new foods and a change in the food choices that the children and families are making at school and in their homes.
The education component is the teaching of the revised AB Health curriculum that focuses on Nutrition and a Healthy Lifestyle. In conjunction with the curriculum, resources produced by the Peace Country Health, the Alberta Dairy Council and other publishers and organizations are used. Both the children and the parents have been given information about a healthy and active lifestyle through newsletters.
This project began in February of 2006. Since then parents, community members and other organizations, have recognized the value of the project and supported us with funding to operate our program.
If we invest in our children today we can be assured that their future and our community will be the better for it.