It's an annual national event, but it was the first time the Stow-Munroe Falls High School participated in Food Day — a celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable and sustainable food.
"I had received many emails from 'Food Day' since the beginning of this school year encouraging us to host an event on Oct. 24," said Jill Merz, a family and consumer science teacher who focuses on creative cooking classes. "I decided to host a healthy food day promotion at Stow-Munroe Falls High School and I invited Kelly Wright-Gonos, another family and consumer science teacher who focuses on food and fitness classes, to join me."
As it turned out, an overwhelming number of students also joined in the cause.
"Kelly and I decided to have our foods classes prepare a healthy snack that could be passed out to students in the halls on Food Day. We also decided to make healthy eating pledges that students could sign that would encourage them to take steps toward healthier eating habits," said Merz.
Up to 400 students signed the pledge.
On Food Day, students lined up outside of the family and consumer science room during their lunch hours to grab some of the healthy snacks made by other students.
"Our students in Creative Cooking and Food and Fitness prepared a low fat oatmeal chocolate chip cookie in their lab groups earlier in the week, then bagged them up and stapled them to a recipe paper that had the nutrition facts listed about the cookies, as well as nutrition facts and tips," she said. "We also popped popcorn on 'Food Day' and gave that out as a healthy snack alternative. The popcorn was made with no butter and it is a whole grain."
There were three kinds of pledges to choose from:
- “I pledge to eat 2-3 servings of fruits a day”
- “I pledge to eat 2-3 servings of vegetables a day”
- “I pledge to replace my sugary drinks with water, skim milk or 100 percent fruit juice every day”
All of the signed pledges were hung up on the wall at the high school next to some creative posters advertising the day.
"Some messages were, 'Eat more fruits and vegetables, Thoroughly wash your hands for 20 seconds before cooking food and Top your salad with colorful fruits and vegetables,'" she said.
Merz said so many teens have unhealthy eating habits and it was important to remind them that there are healthy alternatives to chips, cookies and processed foods.
"Many teens are unaware of the importance of eating a nutritious diet. We wanted to tell them that with a few simple healthy food changes, they can significantly improve their health and nutrition," she said.
The pledge isn't a one-time deal though, the teachers plan to continue to remind students throughout the year about the importance of healthy nutrition.
"We wanted the entire student body to get this message. We plan to keep the pledges and posters up for a while as a visual reminder in the building to make the high school a healthy high school," Merz said.