Peregrine School strives to teach students good nutrition. We seek a balanced approach to food that takes as its premise the following:
•Food is a central part of human life, both biologically and culturally; we must attend to both needs.
• Learning to eat in a thoughtful, celebratory, balanced way is the goal for everyone.
• Attitudes and habits toward food are learned early in life.
To accomplish our goals, we have developed the following programs:
• Nutritious snacks program (with parent involvement encouraged) SEE SAMPLE SNACK MENU
• Hot lunches (provided for the whole school) SEE SAMPLE LUNCH MENU
• The school garden (which teaches children about food and life cycles, and encourages consumption of vegetables)
• Physical education (this is a goal in itself; but with regards to nutrition, lots of activity helps the human body develop good self-regulation of food intake)
• Cooking With Kids
• Teaching of the cultural value of food (food divorced from culture and celebration leads to unhealthy patterns of eating—eating fast food instead of cooking; eating while driving or watching TV)
Within our food and nutrition programs, we must meet basic legal guidelines for school lunch programs; serve as many whole grains, fruits, and vegetables as possible; provide adequate protein, calories, calcium, iron, fatty acids, and other nutrients; and ensure that food is safe.
Some additional matters that we consider:
• We need the kids to actually eat the foods we serve. If a large percentage of kids don’t eat lunch, PE becomes impossible, and the children have behavioral problems for the rest of the day. Not only does this subvert our educational goals, it isn’t healthy.
• Different children have different needs. Some children must be encouraged to eat more vegetables, for example, and others must be watched for adequate calorie consumption. We also have children with food allergies or sensitivities.
• We eat from the garden whenever possible.
• We want to encourage children to diversify their palates.
• We think it is important to introduce some traditional foods that are less nutritious (for example, gingerbread cookies baked by the kids at Christmas).
• We need to stay within our food budget.
To best balance our many goals, we are introducing new and nutritious foods to the children slowly, being sure to also provide foods that the majority of them will eat. For example, eating fish is very important because fish is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. If a high percentage of children will eat fish sticks but not other kinds of fish, and if the fish sticks are easy to prepare, cost effective, and safe, then fish sticks will be served, despite the fact that the breading may not be whole grain and that additives (such as sugar, oil, etc.) are sometimes involved. Similarly, uncured hot dogs are higher in fat, but they provide lots of calories, protein, and iron, and almost all the children will eat them. Therefore, we occasionally serve all-natural chicken or beef hot dogs with whole grain buns and vegetables or fruit.
Overall, it is important to be realistic. Our approach has encouraged kids to experiment with foods they’ve never eaten before. Cooking With Kids and the garden will both, over time, promote this trend. At the same time, parents should not expect the school to accomplish things that parents themselves have not accomplished with their children at home.