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Riverbend kids get some food for thought

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Good nutrition makes an alert mind, which in turn makes a good learner.

That wisdom has propelled a nutrition committee at École Riverbend Community School for years, and their latest project saw students learn all about proper nutrition from their older peers.

For three days last week, on March 4, 6, and 8, Grade 12 students from Garden City Collegiate’s food program visited the elementary school to teach the next generation about a healthy diet.

"It’s awesome, the kids are great. It’s really fun teaching them," said student Phillip Graeff shortly after demonstrating how to make a turkey wrap for his class.

"I was really surprised by what they knew already."

They were brought in by École Riverbend’s seven-person nutrition committee, which paid for the program’s materials via a grant from Seven Oaks Healthy Living. Last year, they brought in local kitchen celebrity Chef Rob to talk to the kids.

According to early learning support worker and committee member Patricia Fulcher, it’s all in keeping with an emphasis on proper eating.

"The committee is really interested in heightening awareness of eating healthy with young children, because it starts at an early age," Fulcher said.

"If kids are excited and able to participate in choosing healthy foods... they’re more apt to go home and say I can do this, and this is a better choice.

"Ultimately it’s better for learning, and that’s better for living, right?"

The Grade 12s led the elementary classes through some presentations and activities, the first day, and added a demonstration of what food they’d be making during the March 6 class. On the last day, the kids had a chance to make the food for themselves, preparing turkey wraps with lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, and cheese.

Janet Schindell, who runs the food class at Garden City Collegiate, said her students had been interested in just such a partnership as far back as six weeks ago.

"I not only use my Grade 12 food and nutrition class, I’ve used several kids throughout the school," Schindell said.
Each day, they reviewed some basic, but crucial knowledge, such as the food groups.

"We had kids make bingo cards, placemats. Every day we’re reviewing where do these foods belong to," Schindell said.

Schindell called the partnership a "win-win" and thanked the school’s staff for being accommodating of the program.

Grade 2 teacher and nutrition committee member Cathy Ratuski, whose class Graeff was teaching, said she thought the partnership was "a very beneficial pairing."

"The kids are responding very well to having the high school students coming in," she said.

The nutrition committee has been around for about five years, though Fulcher said its activities have really picked up in the last two years. Lately, they’ve made donations of "hundreds of pounds" of vegetables to Peak of the Market, and even rolled lessons in nutrition into their French language instruction, cooking dishes using French recipes.

"Everything gets tied in," Fulcher said.

"We really want kids to eat healthy."

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