Snack program sustains students through after-school activities | Health
SYCAMORE TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - An empty stomach plus a basketball do not equal excellence on the court.
There’s a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ about foreign language club when its members’ nutritional needs are met.
And it’s easier to hear a math tutor explain fractions when a growling stomach isn’t competing for attention.
But some Sycamore High School students who participate in after-school activities were going into the second half of their day ill prepared to focus and perform, distracted by hunger because they ate lunch hours ago.
Thanks to the recent launch of the Sycamore Aviator Express, students can refuel before heading out to the activities that help transform them from students into well-rounded adults.
Ohio Senate Bill 210, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, was passed with the intent of preventing childhood obesity. The bill’s guidelines required changes for the National School Lunch Program and a new meal pattern was created to provide students with sustenance to get them through the academic day, but not through the afternoon extracurricular activities.
And with more than 75 percent of Sycamore High School students participating in clubs and sports, Jessica Johnson, Sycamore Child Nutrition Services manager, sprang into action and created Aviator Express, an after-school snack program.
“I’ve always seen a need for a program like this and, with the new meal pattern, felt that the students needed it now more than ever,” Johnson said. “When Kayla Lawson, a student in the high school business club, Aviator Enterprise, asked me about the rules in opening a before-school program and the nutrition requirements of Senate Bill 210, I shared my idea and rationale for an after-school program. Kayla then approached members of Aviator Enterprise and they came back to me with the request to join ventures and work together on an after-school program. I was thrilled with this idea and jumped on board!” Johnson enthused. “Bridging the gap between Sycamore Child Nutrition Services and the education system is always at the forefront of my mind.”
Now, Johnson and the business club students meet monthly to cover basic business principles and to integrate them into Aviator Express. In addition to gaining on-the-job training including basic food safety skills, students have also developed a business plan, marketing plan, budget, menu, and learned about production records.
Each day Aviator Express is open, there will be one CNS employee to work the register and do the cooking and one Aviator Enterprise student working to promote the business, stock the food, record production information, and help open and close Aviator Express.
“In addition to filling a need, working with a very talented, dedicated group of students has been enjoyable,” Johnson noted. “I know not all students have the capability to go off campus to get food, nor enough time. This program will allow them to have a quick stop for food and beverages, as well as the ability to use their student meal accounts, making it more accessible.”
The daily menu consists of three hot entrees: a pizza item, a chicken item and a student favorite, cheese bread sticks with marinara sauce. Cold ‘grab-n-go’ items, such as salads, wraps and sandwiches, are also offered.
“We’ve got fruit, vegetables, milk and beverages,” said Johnson. “Many items have also been taste-tested and approved by students.”
At the end of the school year, Johnson and Aviator Express students hope to present a successful project to the Board of Education and administration.
“Our goal is to at least break even, if not make some small profit to put back into the program to upgrade equipment and software. It has been a great venture thus far and I am very excited to see where this can go,” Johnson commented.
“Ultimately, though, it’s about something more than cross-discipline learning; it’s about achievement, about turning students into capable, balanced young adults. By providing students with an opportunity to get food in their system before practices, games, tutoring and other clubs and organizations, we are providing students with the nutrition they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond.”