Student Perspective on Healthier Cafeterias
Guido is a 13-year old student in Miami Beach, Florida, and a member of our Youth Advisory Board.
Many healthy trends have swept through my school and county in the past years. It was not easy, and at first not well received, but everyone now believes they are better off because of it.
For many years Miami Dade Public Schools has been encouraging students to select a healthy meal but it was not until the approval of a stricter wellness policy that students understood the benefits of making better dietary choices. At first students were reluctant to use the new vending machines not just because they looked like they belonged in a Sci-Fi movie but because healthy lunches seemed to have taken the territory previously owned by their less healthy counterparts. At the same time the rearranging of our lunch lines took place, bringing fruits and vegetables to the front where they are easily accessible, instead of being hidden behind everything else. Along with that, students were now being required to select either a fruit or vegetable as one of their meal components. The wellness policy in place also impacts all food and beverage sales up to one hour after dismissal of the final class for the day. It reduces serving sizes and bans the selling of unhealthy snacks that do not meet Dade-County standards. Students and teachers have started to enjoy the healthy choices available and now understand the importance of eating healthier.
Another healthy trend that happened over the summer, students greeted the arrival of the Miami-Dade school district’s food truck providing freshly made meals. Personally I cannot wait for the next visit!
All these changes have had a profound impact on our school system. Student’s dietary routines and views on healthy living are now changing, and these changes are being reflected on the choices they make throughout the school day. School staff have also benefitted from the enhanced meal choices and both staff and students are aware that academic success is also linked to their health. As research shows, students who are more physically active and consume a nutritionally balanced diet perform better in school.
I am very proud and lucky to be part of a school district that encourages students to be more active and eat healthfully.
What is it like at your school?