The 2020-21 nutrition program at Westmount Community School was a big part of our everyday kindergarten learning and it consistently supported me in meeting the following Kindergarten Curriculum Health Education Outcomes and Indicators:
* USCK.1 Develop basic habits to develop healthy relationships with self, others and the environment.
* DMK.1 Establish that being curious about health and well-being is important for developing healthy habits, establishing health relationships, supporting safety and exploring “self”.
* APK.1 Demonstrate with guidance, initial steps for developing basic health habits, establishing healthy relationships, supporting safety and exploring “self”.
The healthy snacks and meals provided by our school nutrition program regularly brought on wonderful learning and discussions about what it means to be healthy, what healthy foods look like, and how those healthy foods contribute to an overall healthy “self”.
Some students arrived at kindergarten with the idea that they did not like fruits or vegetables, for example, or with very little exposure to eating them. Snack/lunch was always a time for discussion about the foods that were provided to us by the nutrition program: how they tasted, texture, smell, shape, color, size, counting, making patterns, etc., which supported many other aspects of curriculum. Our rule in kindergarten was that you needed to try something 21 times before your body decides if it likes it or not. This became conversations amongst the kids themselves, which were wonderful conversations to be a part of. In the beginning I often heard “I don’t like that” and then as our learning and exposure evolved with healthy food, I most often heard things like “I really like cantaloupe now”, “Oh yeah, I need to try it 21 times”, or “vegetables make me strong and help my brain learn better, or be stronger”.
Discussions about healthy foods, because they were right in front of us, then brought on discussion about unhealthy foods, which in turn led to students having their own conversations about the types of foods they ate, or asking whether what they were eating was healthy or unhealthy. For those who brought their own lunches, the education provided by just having the food from the nutrition program in the classroom, provided them with thinking and understanding about making healthy choices first from their lunch kit and then choosing a less healthy choice as a “treat” or “dessert” choice after.
Through this exposure from the nutrition program, students were able to learn that they not only enjoyed healthy food, but also that healthy foods have a positive impact on their learning and overall well-being. Kindergarten children were able to articulate this in their own way to their peers, others and their families. I often had families sharing a chuckle or a story about something their child said at home in regards to healthy eating such as: a mom saying she didn’t like broccoli in front of her child and her child asking her if she had tried it 21 times before she decided that, or a mom being told that making healthy choices makes you be stronger and smarter. “😊 Parents were also always very appreciative of the types of food their kids had access to at school and I often heard things like “My child would never eat vegetables at home and now they are coming home and telling me that they love them”. While not every child or family had the same feedback or experience, the exposure and regular discussions about healthy eating provided awareness and learning for all students and families.
Having conversations with parents about lunches or snacks sent for home were more easily approached when I identified our school as a nutrition positive school. Without the nutrition program, I feel these conversations would not have been as easy to have had as I would not have been able to give all the wonderful variety of examples of nutritious food choices that were provided by the school.
Our community school coordinator was key in promoting healthy eating and getting students excited about what they were eating as she always explained to students the types of foods they would have access to and also asked for their and my input into menu ideas and new healthy foods to try.
Without the additional funding to the nutrition program, I firmly believe that students would not have access to the variety and quality of healthy foods that Westmount Community School was able to offer over this last year. And without that access/exposure I would have had less opportunity to offer students and families authentic learning experiences about what healthy eating, healthy choices and being healthy looks like.
A Very Grateful Kindergarten Teacher
Raelyn Fee, Learning Support Teacher
Saskatoon Public Schools