By Jill Fox
Making good decisions at school isn’t limited to learning and behavior. Many children consume at least half of their daily calories there, so eating well is also important.
Two Parkland elementary schools are celebrating wins for making healthy choices in their cafeterias: Heron Heights and Park Trails.
The HealthierUS School Challenge establishes rigorous criteria for schools’ food quality, participation in meal programs, physical activity opportunities and nutrition education. The nationwide award program, created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture recognizes schools that create healthier school environments through their promotion of good nutrition and physical activity.
Heron Heights Principal Weiss-Schnur said their cafeteria manager went above and beyond, and the school was very excited to receive the award.
Along with several other schools in Broward County, Park Trails and Heron Heights both received $500 grants to be used to support their health and wellness efforts.
Sally Sharkevich, food service manager of Park Trails and Country Hills Elementary School in Coral Springs said it was nice for the school to be recognized, and that they get something out of it to use to help educate the students.
She made improvements through various lunchroom trainings and initiatives, like sampling a different fruit or vegetable each month – something not normally offered.
“Mini sweet peppers with ranch dressing were very popular with the children, so we added them to the menu,” said Sharkevich, who has been a manager for 22 years, and at Park Trails since opening its doors in 2000.
The challenge entailed representatives from the state observing cafeteria practices, such as educating students to make good choices as they walk through the lunch line, and proper food handling, among other procedures.
“I have great teams in both my kitchens,” said Sharkevich. “We all work very well together.”
At Park Trails, the money will be used for books on good nutrition, or something in the physical education department, while Heron Heights plans to use it for recreational equipment for recess or P.E.
Park Trails Principal Manville said while reading, writing and math are important, as educators it is necessary to help students learn the life lessons that contribute to a healthy body and mind.
“I am proud that our entire staff is dedicated to the education of our students and has made health and wellness a priority.”