Why It Matters
Stirring a Culture Shift at School
In Colorado, nearly a quarter of our children are overweight or obese, and we have the second-fastest growing childhood obesity rate in the country. So what’s a few extra pounds, you say? They’re the reasons illnesses – like hypertension and heart disease – are no longer confined to adults. Additionally, overweight children are often plagued by bullying and self-esteem issues. Our goal is to ensure all Colorado children have access to and choose healthy food at school.
When kids eat better, they do better. Research proves that normal-weight children in every grade have better academic performances than children who are overweight or obese. In addition, overweight children are more likely to have asthma, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, apnea and joint problems.
In nearly 100 school districts across Colorado, food service professionals have joined the LiveWell@School Food Initiative and accepted the challenge to change their processes, their menus and their mindsets to fight childhood obesity by improving the nutrition of student meals. With guidance from our experts, they gain professional culinary skills, streamline processes, learn how to promote their program, and rediscover the joy of cooking.
Eliminating plastic cups for serving vegetables saved one district $105,000! With expert guidance from our consultant team, many districts have improved their balance sheets by reallocating budgets previously spent on processed foods, introducing new revenue streams like catering services and Breakfast in the Classroom, and streamlining operations to save money.
Past participants in the LiveWell@School Food Initiative resoundingly confirm that they learned valuable time management skills to effectively and efficiently cook from scratch. Our expert consultants show how smart planning using whiteboards can save kitchen staff eight-plus hours a week. And how about processing 700 pounds of vegetables in one hour? It’s possible using the right technique and food processor.
Eating food that’s good for you doesn’t mean sacrificing taste. In fact, we teach food service professionals to use fresh—locally sourced when possible—ingredients to bring forth simple, good flavors in recipes. In one district, our chef consultants showed kitchen staff how to reduce the number of ingredients in their mac-n-cheese from 24 highly processed items to 6 fresh and healthy ones. In the end, students come to prefer and want dishes that are lower in salt, sugars and fats, and free of preservatives, dyes and chemicals.