Waltham Schools Get Healthy

We are delighted to announce our new partnership with the Waltham Public Schools, “Fresh! Chef to School visits,” which introduces students to healthy, tasty new foods in Waltham cafeterias. Please see our article for the Waltham News Tribune here (full text also below) to learn about this program. Check out more photos here.

A Fresh Perspective – Program at Waltham Schools Touts Healthy Food

“I never thought eating healthy could be so much fun and taste so good,” said a Stanley Elementary school student after Healthy Waltham’s Chef visited her school.

Waltham elementary students are learning about the importance of eating healthy foods through a new collaborative program at school. Healthy Waltham and the Waltham Public School Nutrition Department are teaming up on a new program called “Fresh! Chef to School Visits.” Waltham Food Services Director, April Liles, says of the program, “We’re thrilled to be working with Healthy Waltham to promote healthy eating habits and introduce healthy new foods in a kid-friendly way.”

Healthy Waltham’s traveling chef, Reva Haselkorn, will visit all six Waltham elementary schools twice this winter and spring to prepare a healthy dish with the cafeteria staff. Students will get to try a sample of the dish during lunch period. Some of the dishes planned will feature cranberries, beans, squash and fresh herbs. Kids will be encouraged to try new foods, and also understand how fruits and vegetables are “the fuel that our bodies need to run properly,” says Liles. “We hope they will learn nutrition concepts they will use in their every day lives.”

The culinary adventure program kicked off with chef visits to the Whittemore and Stanley Elementary Schools. Kids were excited to see a special display table with food samples, posters, and balloons. “We are excited to help Waltham youth experience something new and good for them. With 2,800 elementary school children in Waltham, the program will have a far reach across the community, ” says Healthy Waltham’s Executive Director, Pam Hess.

The first samples students tried included a healthy granola with dried cranberries. “Cranberries add sweetness and are packed with Vitamin C. We were ecstatic when our school meals program got dried cranberries through the USDA commodities program. We know not all students have tried them so we thought it would be fun to come up with different recipes that feature cranberries,” said Liles.

Chef Reva encouraged kids to keep an open mind to different foods. “Trying new foods is a great way to make healthy eating fun and find new favorite dishes, but sometimes it takes a few tries before you like something,” she said. “If you don’t like something, remember not to ‘yuck someone else’s yum’ – no saying yucky.” Judging from the way kids at Whittemore and Stanley gobbled up the cranberry granola, there were more “yums” than “yucks.” All kids trying the cranberries received “I tried it!” stickers.

Kids learned a few new things about the cranberries too, such as that most cranberries are grown in Massachusetts, they grow in swampy areas called bogs, and they can be eaten in salads, baked goods, oatmeal, and served with vegetables.

Fact sheets on the featured menu items and the “Fresh! Chef to School Visits” are being sent home to elementary school parents. “We think this program is great and want parents to know about it too,” says Liles. “They can talk about different foods with their kids and try them at home. Our hope is that children will discover a world of healthy, delicious food choices that will sustain them through a healthy, active life. We want parents to be on board to reinforce good habits at home.”

“Waltham’s kids need healthy diet and exercise to do their best work, so we’re very excited to introduce the “Fresh! Chef to School Visits” program. We are looking forward to a continued partnership with the Waltham Public Schools,” said Hess. “We love having Healthy Waltham visit,” said Whittemore Assistant Principal Stephen Duffy. “They really know our kids, the kids look forward to seeing them, and the message is great.”

More about Healthy Waltham: Founded in 2003, Healthy Waltham promotes healthy eating and active living opportunities to Waltham residents through healthy cooking and gardening, physical activity and involvement in natural open space within the community. Healthy Waltham focuses on serving the most vulnerable populations: families with young children, recent immigrants, low income residents and seniors. We engage people through cooking classes, food demonstrations and gardening, walking clubs, and collaborations around healthy living. We go directly to where people are already gathered, making it easy for them to participate.

To learn more about Healthy Waltham, visit, www.healthy-waltham.org, We can be reached via email at info@healthy-waltham.org. Healthy Waltham is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.


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