Hi everyone! I’m Selma Nunez, the Nutrition and Sustainability Coordinator at the School Nutrition Program. I’m excited to announce that our School Nutrition Program is piloting new nutrition initiatives this year that will allow us to further health and wellness for the schoolchildren we serve. We believe that underserved individuals, especially those from low-income backgrounds, and their families, deserve health and wellness as much as any other population. Nutrition is very significant, and it can have positive or adverse effect with regard to health. Our hope at SNP is to both provide access to healthy school food and teach students how to make health-conscious decisions on their own. Furthermore, we intend to use school nutrition as a tool for further professional development for our youth in YDP as they continue to learn, grow, and lead in New Orleans and beyond.
Three new ways we’ll serve our scholars:
1) Local procurement: We’re building direct relationships with local farmers as we source product from them to use in our school meals. In this way, we are able to serve the best and freshest tasting ingredients in season. Ultimately, we plan to integrate visits to local farms as part of our curriculum.
2) Starting an on-site school garden: Last week, we held the official groundbreaking for a garden at Crocker College Prep! Many thanks to partners Sysco and Instar Farms for their help and support. This garden will be the site for nutrition lessons for kids and ultimately, we’ll be able to cook with herbs and vegetables we grow there. More importantly, we and the students will learn more about the ingredients in our foods and have a direct hand in the process of growth.
3) Nutrition education: This summer, I taught a pilot nutrition education course at the Jewish Community Center summer camp. We held lessons with 125 campers, showing them how to prepare healthy foods. It was a lot of fun! This fall, I’m starting a weekly after-school club called “Liberty’s Kitchen Lab” at Crocker College Prep to keep the momentum going with middle school aged scholars. Our first class was about getting to know the students and their current working knowledge around preparing, producing and eating nutritious food. We want to increase their knowledge of and hands-on training with the food process.
The long-term goal is to develop relationships with local farmers for the best regional/seasonal ingredients, encourage ongoing product knowledge through the school garden and build community exposure to different foods, and ultimately to see a decrease in obesity rates of our children as they make better-informed nutritional choices. We’ll apply knowledge and experience in nutrition to implement programs and services that support individuals and their families in their journey to improved holistic health outcomes.
As you can tell, we’ve got a lot going on, so stay tuned for more news from SNP.
~Selma Núñez – Nutrition and Sustainability Coordinator