In honor of our all-school nutrition study, this week’s blog will be a tour of our seedfood website. The site came into being several years ago when the lead teachers gathered for a discussion about developmentally appropriate food practices. Starting with an article on this topic, we talked about how much children should be expected to eat, how we define “growing food,” and ways to get food-related information to parents. At first we thought we’d make a brochure to give parents, but there was too much information, so it turned into a website with resources, lunch ideas, curriculum possibilities, and a blog.
As we worked on this topic, it became clear that we needed unified policies and practices for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary students. Even within our staff there was quite a variety of approaches to the subject. We drafted a nutrition mission, then developed other content from there. Our intention was to make it as easy as possible for parents to provide nutritious snacks and lunches and, at the same time, help the planet by minimizing the amount of trash produced.
Once we had a clearly developed food policy, we began gathering resources for parents. One teacher had created an excellent guide for snack shopping, so we made that available to all parents. We provided parents with information about the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen, to support food shopping decisions. Around this time we also began photographing children’s lunches throughout the school, which became the lunch ideas section of the website. It was a natural progression to create a resource list for reusable containers, and this was expanded to other kinds of resources as well.
The idea for making the site began to draw attention from several parents who had an invested interest in nutrition-related topics. In the spirit of being inclusive and availability of several experts, we added a blog to the site so staff, parents, and other experts could be guest bloggers on their areas of expertise. This is an aspect of the website we hope to expand in the future.
In addition to offering nutritional support to parents, we also wanted to include curriculum ideas for teachers. The curriculum section is still under construction, although even in its unfinished state, it’s an excellent source of standards-based learning activities and possibilities.
One of our assistants sent me this message after curriculum night in her classroom last week: “I applauded the parents for raising children needing less help to open up their lunch. This is partly because nearly all the children have reusable lunch containers that are easily accessible. I also noticed that the parents can control food portions and appearance, making it easier and fun for many children to eat all or most of the lunch each day. I’ve observed this improvement over the last six years.” Her message was a reminder that when we work together for the the benefit of our children and the planet, we can make significant changes. Our seedfood website, which is most definitely a work in progress, will continue to be a vehicle for that change.