PROJECTS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Healthy School Food Hotline
Over the last 5 years, we have gained a healthy reputation as an organization that helps people create change in their schools. We provide a hotline for anyone who is involved with schools, including superintendents, board members, principals, teachers, school nurses, physical education directors, parents, and students. We have provided assistance, resources, and information to hundreds of schools.
PROJECTS (Pilot Programs)
Cool School Food
Cool School Food in New York City, and Cool School Food in Ithaca, are partnerships with businesses and organizations to develop, test, and implement plant-based, made from scratch, international bean-based recipes in school cafeterias. The program seeks to introduce the recipes with promotional events and educational materials designed to make trying new foods and learning about their health benefits both fun and exciting.
Click on the links in this section to learn more about our project.
FLI Fantastic Food Program in Harlem
The Future Leaders Institute Charter School in Harlem was our first big project. We ran our program at the school for over 3 years. It was a wonderful and rewarding experience. We worked with two different administrations at the school. Unfortunately, the school no longer has the resources to be able to provide a staff person on their end to continue the program.
- Lunch, worked in partnership with NYC’s Department of SchoolFood and Yale University’s Rudd Center
for Food Policy and Obesity to research whether or not children will accept healthy plant-based meals. Food was prepared by a chef from New York City’s #1 Zagat rated vegetarian restaurant, Candle 79 in the school cafeteria.
Our partnership with NYC’s Department of Education, Office of SchoolFood was proof that we can help schools achieve their goals. The NYC Department of SchoolFood has as part of its
federally mandated wellness policy a commitment to “Offer and promote inclusion of plant-based entrees” and to accommodate various food preferences. Our entrees helped NYC to meet these requirements. The food was also offered to the children in the other two schools which reside in the same building.
- Education in the Classroom, we offered an after school enrichment program for 4th – 8th grade students.
- Family Dinner Night, where all people living in the student’s household were invited to the school for a free dinner, a cooking demo, and a nutrition lesson. This evening gave parents a break from preparing dinner and offered information to help the students’ families make meaningful changes in their lives. We had up to 400 people attend this event.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program in Ithaca (NYCHSF FFVSP)
This pilot project was a private version of the federally funded Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program. We worked with the Ithaca City School District to provide fresh fruit and vegetables as snacks in the classrooms at Beverly J. Martin elementary school, by getting funding to sponsor classrooms to pay for produce and labor to prepare it. We received funding from United Way, Greenstar Food Coop, Gannet Foundation, Rotary, The Howland Foundation as administered by the Community Foundation of Tompkins County, Ithaca Public Education Initiative, Legacy Foundation, United Way Youth Philanthropy, and the Ithaca Alternative Gift Fair. Ardyth Gillespie, PhD, from the Food Decision Making Program at Cornell University provided research assistance. We created a blueprint guide that tells other schools and businesses how to implement this program –the guide will be available free as a download from our website after we make some additional changes to it. The Cayuga Radio Group, which owns 5 stations, donated advertising to help us find sponsors. The program was run by NYCHSF for just over two years, and then turned over to a local organization that continues to run the program.
Healthy Schools Grant in Corning
Our small grant resulted in plant-based entrees on the menu every day at Severn Elementary School. In addition, healthy a la carte menu items such as Amelia Bedelia’s Bodacious Berry Bowl and Curious George’s Banana Pop were offered, children received nutrition education, and there was a reduction in food additives.
Wellness Wakeup Call
A small grant allowed us to create what has become our signature program called “Wellness Wakeup Call.” Wellness Wakeup Call helps schools to meet their nutrition education goals as mandated by the federal wellness policy requirement. It is available to schools in New York State for free, places no extra burden on teachers, and consists of “easy to digest sound-bites” read during the morning announcements each day in school. The program is written by three registered dietitians, and is available in K-5 and 6-12 versions. Additionally, the program can be printed out as a one page,
double sided newsletter with a healthy recipe on back to go home with the younger children and be printed in district or PTA newsletters or placed on the district website for the 6-12 version. We ask parents to review the messages with their children, to reinforce what the children have learned, but also so parents can learn too. The program is being used in hundreds of schools both in and out of New York State including Syracuse City School District, 17 Philadelphia City schools, and even in Canada and Aruba! The program is reaching at least 70,000 students every day.
We have designed 3 posters which an anonymous donor is paying to have printed. We will print at least 6000 posters and they will be made available free to schools.
- One poster features Super Size Me director and star, Morgan Spurlock and his wife Alex Jamieson. They have also attended our fall benefit and love the work we are doing, and donated half a day to do the photo shoot for us, with their photographer donating his work as well. The poster features green vegetables and the importance of greens.
- Another poster, for younger children, features the work of Saxton Freymann, the fruit and vegetable carver who then photographs his work. He has several popular books out. It features fruits and vegetables that look like people and animals playing in a park, and features rhyming verses to teach children about the importance of plant-foods. He and his wife attended our last fall benefit and are very excited about our work.
- The final poster features a peace sign made out of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and grains, with each section featuring a different color group on a plate, and says “Peace on Your Plate”, indicating that your plate should be full of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. The photography was donated. Much of the food in the picture was locally grown and donated by Ithaca Farmer’s Market vendors.
Music CD by Jay Mankita
We commissioned musician Jay Mankita to write songs for us about healthy eating and then had him perform them in 5 NYC schools one week as a pilot project. This led to the NYC Department of SchoolFood hiring Jay for an additional 3 weeks to come and perform at 15 additional schools. The songs are geared toward elementary schools, and the CD’s are now available and can and can be downloaded. About Jay Mankita, Pete Seeger said “I think he’s one of the half-dozen best song-writers today.”
Food Cards and Hands On Learning Activities
We created cards which feature favorite processed foods to show how much sugar, fat and sodium, are in them, as well as the ingredient list. We show these cards with bags of sugar and fat to illustrate the amount in each food item. In addition we have created a number of activities that involve hands on learning.
PARTNERSHIPS OTHER THAN THOSE MENTIONED ABOVE IN "PROJECTS"
In the fall of 2007 we partnered with American Cancer Society of Nassau County on Long Island to hold a School Superintendents Conference called “Wellness Policies: The Next Step” to encourage schools to take more meaningful action on the federally mandated wellness policies. We reached 80 school decision makers including superintendents, principals, school nurses, counselors, teachers, and parents. During the question and answer session at the end of the conference, one attendee stood up and said to all that it was the best conference he had been to – clearly we had crossed all of our “T’s” and dotted all our “I’s”, that everything we did (food and physical activity at the conference) was consistent with our message and that it was very impressive. Many others in the audience agreed with him. Since then we have had feedback from schools about changes they are making as a result of what they learned at the conference.
We have worked closely with the New York State PTA, and have written and gotten passed two resolutions at their annual conventions. These resolutions became their official policy and basis for action. It is an opportunity to bring our issues before 500 PTA leaders from around the state each year with important health and nutrition information for a minimum of ½ hour of education and debate.
We have exhibited and/or presented at a number of statewide conferences, including the NYS PTA, the Baum Forum in NYC, the NYS School Nutrition Association, NYS Student Council Leaders, NYS Student Support Service Center (school nurses) and Cornell Cooperative Extension Nutrition Conferences. In addition, we have been an invited speaker at Hunter College on three occasions so far, and regularly present to future teachers at SUNY Oneonta. In addition we have sponsored or co-sponsored several others:
- United Federation of Teachers (UFT), NYC’s teachers union - we exhibited at the 2007 and 2008 spring conferences to a very appreciative crowd. We sponsored a teacher’s conference in conjunction with UFT in 2006 and again in 2008 that sold out and had rave reviews.
- Politics of School Food Conference – we held the first ever Politics of School Food Conference for a sold out audience of over 200 at New York University. Speakers included David Berkowitz, Ann Cooper, Milton Mills, MD, Marion Nestle, Margo Wootan and others.
- Food Politics Conference – we were an invited speaker at Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s Food Politics Conference with over 850 attendees.
- In service teacher training for 150 teachers from 3 elementary schools with hands on activities and food tasting on Long Island
Hands on Activities at Family Dinner Night in Harlem – to learn percentage of calories from
plant foods, animal foods, and processed foods – as a result of our partnership with the Future
Leaders Institute Charter School and the NYC DOE Office of SchoolFood.
Student with beets, cauliflower and basil as a result of our Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program
at our Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program in Ithaca.
Students enjoy Portuguese White Bean and Kale Soup and hummus on whole grain bread after
polishing off their Amelia Bedelia’s Bodacious Berry Bowls in Corning as a result of our Healthy