Picture getting to select what you and your classmates eat for lunch during the school day. Fourth-grade students did just that recently as they put on their imaginative chef caps to learn about nutrition and meal planning. Lower School Science Teacher Laura Pupillo and School Dietitian Joy Ward, RD LD, from Flik teamed up for this unit on food chains and nutrition. Kicking off science in fourth grade, students explored food chains including their own. “They learned how energy is passed down through the sun, plants, and animals and that the food we eat makes a big difference when it comes to our health,” said Pupillo. This learning provided a great foundation to explore food groups with Ward and to begin exploring menu planning.
“Knowing that we were going to have the opportunity to create Friday school lunch menus,” Pupillo said, “we wondered if it would be possible to also grow some of our food to add to the school lunches.” Students researched growing food in a grow tower and started their own seeds for various lettuces, spinach, chard, and herbs.
While the plants took root, it was time to work on meal planning. Ward came in for a lesson incorporating MyPlate, a tool that teaches about food groups and how much is needed from each food group to create a healthy, nutritious meal. “Students were very excited to learn the food groups and were curious to know how nutrition makes the body healthy,” she said. After discussing the specifics of which foods fit into which groups, students learned how food affects the body and why it is important to eat a variety of healthy foods.
Next, students were divided into groups and set off to brainstorm their healthy lunch meals. “Some students were highly optimistic and creative, suggesting things like steak and sushi,” Ward said. “While these foods can fit into a healthy and delicious menu, students then learned some other important factors to consider when planning school lunches such as budgeting, food product availability, and food allergens. They also realized that agreeing on foods that most Lower School students would like can be a challenging task!”
After each group deliberated and researched, the lunch menus were dreamt up from their young and inventive imaginations. Per tradition in fourth grade, their menus will be featured on Fridays throughout the school year beginning Friday, December 3, with a menu by Bentley M. ’30 and Aarav N. ’30. Pupillo plans to notify parents when their students’ menu will be served.
Here are some of the sample lunch menus:
In addition, fourth-grade students continued to take care of their plant project in class. The week before Thanksgiving, the first lettuce heads were cut and prepared by Ward. Students were enthralled to eat their very own lettuce. Even some reluctant students returned to the lunch line to reap the benefits of their hard work. Pupillo said, “It’s exciting to see the power of growing your own food and this year’s fourth-grade class is thrilled to see their lunch menus featured along with their own produce!”
Thank you, fourth graders, for creating some delicious and nutritious menus and growing some of the best greens around. The Lower School is looking forward to your lunch meals!