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Nurse: Food affects students' minds

May 10, 2011
Jodelle Greiner , Fairmont Sentinel

BLUE EARTH - What kids eat influences not just their weight, but their psychological well being, school nurse Sharon Hoyt told the Blue Earth Area School Board on Monday.

Hoyt presented a revised Wellness Policy to the board, noting a lot of thought had gone into the policy. The collaborative effort implemented recommendations by the Institute of Medicine, Center for Disease Control and the White House Task Force (Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign), as well as expert advice from Leslie Lytle, a nutrition consultant and professor at the University of Minnesota, local students, staff and administration.

"The policy covers nutrition in school by addressing both food served in our lunchrooms, as well as foods available during the day outside of school lunch," Hoyt said.

"The suggested healthy snacks will be a big help to parents," said Frankie Bly, board chair.

The list includes fruits, vegetables with dips or salsa, low-fat dairy products, and cookies and crackers, such as unfrosted animal crackers, graham crackers and pretzels.

Hoyt also spoke about birthday celebrations, which are not the same as years ago.

"Amounts, sizes and frequency have changed," she said.

She gave as an example when kids bring in snacks that are not nutritious and sometimes jumbo-sized. Another child with an upcoming birthday may not be able to afford to match that, so they are embarrassed.

"Eliminate it and have classroom parties in a different way," Hoyt said, with different themes or activities; instead of having a party every time a child has a birthday, have one once a month and be more lenient with the variety of snacks.

Hoyt said the food service staff has been working with Lytle and they have made "subtle changes already."

Hoyt said the information is available to parents, as well as on the school website.

"We're trying to reduce the trend in childhood obesity rates," she said.

She welcomes questions from those with concerns.

"If I don't know the answer, I will get you the answer," Hoyt said.

Superintendent Dale Brandsoy urged the board to read the policy, ask questions and make changes as needed, and come back next month ready to decide if it should be approved.

In other business:

o The board voted to add a fourth section to next year's kindergarten class, breaking it up into classes of 19, 19, 18 and 18 at the Blue Earth site. Winnebago will have 23 students.

Brandsoy warned the board that the projected 75-student count in Blue Earth could climb to 80. As it stands, the total for kindergarten at the two schools stands at 98. Next year's first and second grades, which are already broken into four sections, have 108 and 101 students respectively.

Brandsoy showed a class size survey chart of area schools and how their K-6 classes are divided.

"Most of the schools are concerned; they want to stay in the low 20s, and we do too," he said.

o Lois Willmert told the board that the Winnebago Area Musical Players had obtained the funds necessary to buy curtains for the Winnebago Elementary gymnasium stage, through a combination of grants and fundraisers. She praised the community and area for its support.

Willmert pointed out that one of the grants WAMP received was from Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council. A condition of the grant was if WAMP should ever cease to exist, ownership of the curtains would transfer to PLRAC, which could remove the curtains.

The board recognized that point in the resolution passed, stating WAMP owns the curtains and the school district has no ownership interest in them.



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