With the right mindset, anything is possible. Hemlock Public School District approaches all challenges with an innovative mindset and collaborative workflow. Childhood obesity is no different. Hemlock is tackling the challenge on three fronts - the cafeteria, the classroom, and after-hours.
HPSD’s resident ‘Food Dude’ Zach Bauer is the driving force behind the cafeteria’s updated selection of delicious and nutritious choices. Bauer notes, ”One of my biggest goals as the Food Service Director is to offer options of new, exciting, and healthy foods that students may not have been exposed to.”
To accomplish this, Hemlock has moved toward fresh produce and ingredients over pre-processed foods. So far the changes have been popular. “We have seen a significant increase in student lunch participation and the kids are loving the new options.” Bauer notes, “Children eat with their eyes first so the presentation is a huge factor.” “When a child hears broccoli, their first instinct is to say ‘eww gross’. But when you hide broccoli in a roasted vegetable medley with bright and colorful fresh veggies, the kids are a lot more likely to try them out.” Bauer concludes, ”It’s such a simple but effective way to spice things up.”
While the cafeteria provides healthy options, there are other important factors such as rest and hydration that are often overlooked. Athletic Director Cory Snider notes, “Being hydrated, eating healthy meals to stay energized, and getting the proper rest is paramount in being able to thrive inside the classroom and on the fields/courts of play.” Snider continues, “Hemlock does a tremendous job of tackling healthy habits from multiple avenues. We offer youth sports through our schools and other community organizations. Inside of school, we have a healthy resource advocate as well as a school nurse who are both pressing into our classrooms to give presentations on healthy eating, exercise, handwashing, and many other topics.”
Hemlock’s innovative approach culminates with the upcoming Wolgast Field House. The Field House is a combined effort from Hemlock and local community partners to provide a place for students to exercise, socialize, and grow. Snider notes, ”The fieldhouse can open so many doors that currently aren't available to our community and students. The ability to stay active year-round as well as socialize with other peers in a different capacity than just school will have a major impact on our students’ social-emotional health as well as their physical health. The Wolgast Field House will continue our school district's idea of educating the whole child.”
Do you want to know more about the Fieldhouse? Do you or someone you know want to donate toward making this project a reality? Click below and follow the link to learn more.
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