This week, students at Beecher Road School could really eat their words, or at least the words of famous authors. As part of the first Read Aloud Nutrition Day, the lunch menu was themed after books about healthy food and nutrition. Children could dine on Cloudy with Chance of Meatballs pasta, An Alphabet Salad macaroni salad made from pasta letters, “The 5 Little Peppers” rainbow raw pepper strips and James and the Giant Peach diced peaches. The day kicked off with guest readers in each classroom sharing the message of healthy food and lifestyle choices. Lori Patrick, Beecher Road library teacher, coordinated the morning event and selected grade appropriate books for guest readers that included community members like Eric Werthmann and Beth Weintraub from the Woodbridge Public Library. Mr. Werthmann enjoyed his reading time and observed a high level of student engagement and involvement. Deb Culligan of the Quinnipiac Health District noted that “It was impressive to see how much the children knew about healthy eating”. Arielle Weston, Amanda Appell, and Christopher Scoppetta, dietetic interns from the University of Saint Joseph, created handouts for students on healthy snacking and conducted a tasting at lunchtime of two healthy snacking foods. Students eagerly lined up for samples of edamame and dried fruit along with the sticker that has become a trademark of monthly samplings.
The event also included the launch of a large wall-hung monitor outside the dining area that is used for health and wellness messages. On Read Aloud Nutrition Day, the snacking handouts were part of the scrolling display along with a “Funny Fruits and Vegetables” segment. Assembled by James Crawford of the IT department, the display showed colorful photos of produce that didn’t quite grow the way nature intended, like a koala bear potato, butterfly strawberry, and heart-shaped lime. Quick and healthy snacking recipes rounded out the loop of nutrition posts. Using literacy as the communication tool, this event was part of the district’s ongoing work through the Superintendent’s Cafeteria Task Force to create a healthy school environment especially in the cafeteria.