Tag Archive | "lunch"

Creating a Healthier School District from the Top Down

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Heller_BH School Wellness Challenge_6099

By Kathryn G. Menu

Bridgehampton teacher Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz begins most days with a plate of eggs and cheese, “usually on top of something buttered.”
Until today, that is.

Carmack-Fayyaz is one of about a dozen members of the Bridgehampton Union Free School District participating in the Winter Wellness Challenge, sponsored and facilitated by the East Hampton based not-for-profit Wellness Foundation.

The Wellness Foundation, founded in 2005 by East Hampton resident Doug Mercer, is dedicated to empowering East End residents to live healthier lives through changes in diet, exercise and lifestyle by providing resources, hosting events like film screenings and lectures, as well as through initiatives like the Winter Wellness Challenge.

At its core, the Winter Wellness Challenge asks participants to engage in a vegan-inspired, whole foods diet, as well as increase exercise for six weeks. During the course of the challenge, groups will meet weekly for lectures on health, wellness, cooking classes and for general support.

This winter’s program has over 80 participants from East Hampton through Southampton, including Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton. The scientifically-based program is free, funded by the Wellness Foundation, which hopes to use the results of the challenge to further their research into the physical benefits of a whole foods, nutrient rich diet.

According to Wellness Foundation Outreach Director Barbara Kinnier, a Sag Harbor resident who will facilitate the wellness challenges in Sag Harbor and in Bridgehampton, blood tests were taken by all participants at the start and end of the challenge. Changes in cholesterol and glucose will be measured, along with each participant’s waistline — another indicator of good health.

Whether or not participants choose to share their results with the rest of the group is up to them, said Kinnier, as the foundation aims to protect privacy while encouraging changes in behavior.

According to Kinnier, the main goal is to educate participants about the benefits of a nutrient dense diet, made up primarily of vegetables and fruits.

“The thing about the body that is amazing is that it wants to heal itself and on the cellular level, the body is in fact healed through these foods,” said Kinnier. “And we make it taste good.”

Organizing a group at Bridgehampton School to join this winter’s challenge was the brainchild of new superintendent Dr. Lois Favre, who was inspired after school nurse Elizabeth Alves showed her the DVD “Processed People,” which the Wellness Foundation screened at the school earlier this month in the evening for community members.

Dr. Favre said in light of the new greenhouse on the school grounds — one that will soon produce salad greens and vegetables for the school’s brand new salad bar station — she felt the Winter Wellness Challenge presented the staff and faculty with an opportunity to set a good example for Bridgehampton School students.

Dr. Favre will take part in the challenge herself, along with about 10 members of the school’s faculty and staff.

“I also thought it might be a great way to get to know my staff in a different capacity, alongside them, getting healthy,” said Dr. Favre.

“I am hoping it builds the capacity for bringing more of what’s good for us into our program of studies for our students, into our cafeteria and ultimately to our families,” added Dr. Favre.

Carmack-Fayyaz said she was thrilled with Dr. Favre’s initiative, adding the program is very much in line with changes at Bridgehampton School — in particular the introduction of landscape design and nutrition classes crafted around an outdoor garden and now a greenhouse, which will be completed in March.

“We started our nutrition and culinary arts class here, and we have been teaching our students the Slow Food philosophy,” said Carmack-Fayyaz. “It was striking because at first a lot of the students had this idea that being a vegan would be a very scary thing, that it was impossible to do, but we assembled some really great vegan salads in our class, and I think they were surprised by it.”

She said she hopes to chart some of the wellness challenge results for student’s to see, in particular how much each participant is logging on the pedometers they will wear throughout the course of the challenge.
“I think the biggest challenge will be re-conceptualizing what a meal is comprised of and giving most of the plate over to the vegetables,” said Carmack-Fayyaz. “I know personally, it is a little scary — the idea of eating essentially a vegan diet for six weeks — but my hope is after the challenge I can cut down my meat consumption to one or two small servings a week and eat a more plant-based diet. I don’t think I will end up staying a full fledged vegan though.”

For Dr. Favre, fitting exercise into her busy schedule will be the biggest challenge, although she noted she will have the support of some staff members who aren’t even participating in the nutrition aspect of the program, but are committed to walking each day.

“I am hoping for renewed energy as is promised, and also gratifying will be the congeniality that will be built with staff around issues of taking care of ourselves, while we look after and inspire our students,” said Dr. Favre.
That is not to say the thought of cheesy pizza and a good hamburger will not haunt the superintendent as she embarks on this dietary challenge, although Dr. Favre said she was hopeful she would find new favorite foods in her vegan diet.

“I know that right now tofu is not on my hit parade,” she said. “But ask me later and I will share my new favorites.”

Pierson Lunch Prices to Increase

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In the past year, the Sag Harbor School District’s lunch program dipped into red ink, according to district business manager Len Bernard. But, says Bernard, the cafeteria’s books will be brought into the black this year by raising food prices and utilizing better tracking and accounting systems.

Over the course of the 2008-2009 school year, the overall cost of serving breakfast and lunch was around $95,300 with a $6,700 deficit. This debt, contended Bernard to the board back in February, included the purchase of a new cash register, software and trays, which will lead to later efficiencies. If these items were taken off the balance sheet, said Bernard, then the program would have been fiscally solvent last year.

Beginning in the fall, the price for a complete lunch will be $3.75 for students and $5.50 plus tax for staff. Last year, student’s lunch was $3.50. Breakfast will cost $2, raised from the current price of $1, and an additional 50 cents will be added to the price of a la carte items.

The program’s budget for the coming school year includes raises for cafeteria staff and a four percent increase for the cost of food.

By utilizing a point of sale (POS) system, students will be able to pay with cards, which can be swiped at the register. However, warned Bernard, outstanding balances are capped at $25 and parents will receive a bill at the end of each month.

In addition to streamlining the payment process, Bernard plans to install additional vending machines and provide more bag lunches to teachers and traveling athletes as a way to generate revenue, although these monies weren’t included in the 2009-2010 projections.

Fact Finder’s Report

Last week, fact finder Elliott Shriftman released his report regarding contract negotiations between district teachers and the school board. At the business meeting on Monday, members of the board briefly discussed their initial rejection of the report based on the grounds that it didn’t address all of the issues at hand. The board, however, will meet again in executive session on Thursday to once again discuss the contract negotiations and are expected to bring the teachers back to the table on September 2.

“We were hopeful the recommendations would have indicated a path towards a mutual satisfying settlement. [The report] didn’t make recommendations on all issues,” reported school superintendent Dr. John Gratto. “We are where we were before.”

However, Parent Teacher Association member Chris Tice felt it would be a waste for the school to abandon the findings and wondered if the district had any recourse to have Shriftman elaborate on the other issues missing from the report.

Shriftman was hired by the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) not the district. Although the district could hire Shriftman as a mediator, board president Walter Wilcoxen seemed reluctant to do this, but said Shriftman had mentioned an interest in doing some pro bono work for the district.

Wilcoxen was also perplexed by the fact that Shriftman was given only three days to complete his research and write the report. Jim Kinnier, a teacher and negotiator for the Teacher’s Association of Sag Harbor, countered that he knew in advance the fact finder had three days to finish his work.

Former teacher and Sag Harbor school board member, Walter Tice said in his experience fact finder reports often leave out certain auxiliary issues to instead focus on the “controversial issues that are dividing the parties.”

Also Discussed

— The board announced it will not go forward with an energy efficiency contract, and instead will combine several items from this contract with the bond resolution for other facility repairs and renovations. According to Dr. Gratto, the board will know the final bond amount by September 14.

— Although he doesn’t have specific numbers, Dr. Gratto reported enrollment will be up by around 30 students in both the elementary school and the middle and high school in the fall.

— Business manager Len Bernard said three bus routes, Ross School elementary and high school and Pierson High School, will be combined this fall using the bus recently purchased by the district. Bernard reported that the measure would save the district around $100,000.