A gardenside chat

“Wait. Have we met you before?”, asks one sixth grader as his class settles into the outdoor classroom benches at a Santa Barbara area elementary school.

“Nope. I’m the crazy bike lady. I rode over 1,000 miles just to come here and talk to YOU!”, I reply. A few other students tune in. Immediately, I have their attention. This is a condensed presentation so after a quick overview of my route, program and mission, the floor opens up for Q&A. Hands are timid to start, but soon the class is peppering me with questions, including such gems as:

  • “Do you get to go to the bathroom?”
  • “What do you eat?”
  • “What’s your favorite color?”
  • “Are you married?”
  • … and of course, the wonderfully esoteric “WHY are you doing this?”

We wrap up and head into the garden where the students are soon busy carefully planting lettuce & bok choy in slightly crooked rows. I connect with the Principal and she fills me in on their many school lunch successes. Check out a portion of the list below:

I ask her what the turning point was for their school. “It was just time. We wrote a wellness policy, got specific, and stuck to it. A combination of motivated food services personnel, student education, family involvement & staff buy-in were all key pieces.”

This principal also encourages all the students to create a “Party on their plate” by placing the salad in the middle of a segmented tray rather than sequestering all those fresh veggies on the sidelines. She guesses that 25% of students are now “partying” on their plates. Kudos to everyone involved in making healthy changes at this school!

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