A Healthy SNACT

Monica and her colleagues at service site New Britain ROOTS pose after a successful taste-test planned in partnership with New Britain Public Schools Food Service Director Mike Koch.

On Friday, November 6, the School Nutrition Association of Connecticut (SNACT) organized their annual Conference and Industry Trade Show to facilitate the connections of leaders and advocates in CT school nutrition, and learn from one another about the potential of healthy school meals.

“It is an absolute privilege that we get to serve you two out of three meals a day,” proclaimed Groton Food Services Director (and FoodCorps site supervisor) Ernie Koschmieder to a panel of Connecticut students at the conference. Mr. Koschmieder facilitated the panel to highlight student voices for the benefit of food service directors and staff from across CT, in the planning of their menus for the following school year. What all of these passionate people know is that with great privilege comes great responsibility.

The conversations, both during the conference portion and at the food show following the conference, were abundant with questions about whole grain and vegetable servings, shorter ingredient lists, and the rich nutritional content of foods potentially being served to our communities’ youth. Though price is always a central concern for school meal purchasers, the focus for these CT staff is, of course, our students.

In a video shown to all conference goers, a third grade student from Hartford remarked “Healthy school meals are important because they give me energy for the day.” This quote embodies the important work that happens in our school kitchens and cafeterias across the state; feeding kids who may not have access to healthy food at home so that they can succeed in school.

As FoodCorps Service Members, we work to build a bridge between food services and students. In Connecticut, 20 Service Members are partnered with school districts and community based organizations across the state to connect kids to healthy food in school. Each of us internalize the FoodCorps vision as we strive to build relationships with students and staff, teach hands on lessons in the classroom, and foster a school wide culture of health. We are creating a future in which every school is a healthy school and every child is well-nourished and ready to learn. With the construction of school gardens, the introduction of local produce on school menus, nutrition-based curriculum, and extracurricular garden-based programming, I feel like I am doing my part in cultivating student health and helping our learners grow into leaders.