Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Wellness Committee grows in Hoboken and First Lady Michelle Obama visits Newark!

This blog was started because after I saw what our kids were eating, shocked at the poor quality of food they were receiving, and concerned with their health, I felt that it was important that the Hoboken School district form a Wellness Committee to help address these issues through wellness policies that really impact our kids health in a positive way.  On Monday this committee met for the first time! Today, I reached out to the Hoboken School District with the hopes of serving on this committee even though my child now is in a Charter school. reported on it:  Hoboken Board of Ed Forms Wellness Committee.  The committee is set to focus on nutrition education for both students and parents, exercise, and also food choice. I look forward to following their progress.

And in other exciting news:

In the summer of 2009, Maple Avenue School begun their journey to sustain healthy living and eradicate obesity. And so the 'Growing Minds Program' was born!  With funding and support from Slow Food Northern New Jersey and the Beth Israel Medical Center, they were able to implement and integrate nutrition into the curriculum and also promote the importance of good nutrition.

Slow Food Northern NJ provided grow boxes, seeds, planting materials, and curriculum for three different grade levels which was easily integrated within the curriculum. I am huge believer in making the connection of healthy nutrition through school gardens. Not only is it exciting for them to watch their hard work flourish but they can make a real connection with where food actually comes from! 

The program was so successful it caught the attention of First Lady Michelle Obama and her Let's Move campaign. Tomorrow she will be visiting Newarks' Maple Avenue School, to talk about nutrition and physical education. Mayor Cory Booker will moderate the event which is part presentation and part discussion. According to statistics released earlier this year, one in five Newark children are obese; 43% of the city’s boys and 45 % of its girls, according to the Center for State Health Policy. 

'Go Newark' and 'Go Hoboken' for trying to the change the future of our children!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Food Revolution (TV) - Movie Poster - 11 x 17A lot has changed since the last school year. The biggest change for us was deciding to take our daughter out of the public school system and put her in a brand-spanking-new dual language charter school. The school is small; 132 students and 6 classrooms, two per grade (K, 1st and 2nd).
I love the concept of a small school that allows for lots of parent involvement with the added bonus of learning 2 languages. And that's exactly why we are attending ¡HoLa! | Hoboken Dual Language Charter School.

Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable MealsThe school has an almost radical approach  towards health and nutrition. For one they chose Revolution Foods as their food service provider. While popular on the west coast, Rev Foods is trying to break into the market on the east coast and so is fairly 'new' in the area.  With school lunches coming in at $3.45 per meal compared to the $2.75 (Hoboken public schools) it can get pricey.  But as we've already seen, cheap food comes with a price far more devastating on our kids and the environment. Rev Foods began delivering October 1st and is going strong. So far I like what I see on the menu- more beans and more vegetarian options. I will start recording the meals next week.

The school is also encouraging healthy snacks not only for everyday, but also for birthday parties and other celebrations.  I like the concept of less cupcakes and more fruit! However, I think a healthy balance between the 2 is necessary: how about banana, blueberry chocolate cupcakes?

The most exciting thing for me (and the kids I think), is that even before the school opened its doors, they had built 3 above-ground planters or grow boxes (one for each grade). The kindergartners planted lettuce and oregano. My child came home with such excitement at the prospect of growing and eating what they had just planted.  And so, a school garden finally grows in Hoboken!

We also donated our worm factory to the school. We decided it was time for them to move out of our small urban home and into a large more open and welcoming environment. While I love the concept of the worm factory, it does come with some drawbacks; mainly the 100's of fruit flies!  At least they now have a home that not only inspires learning but also provides nutrient-rich compost for our schools' garden.  Sadly I do not miss them.

The winter is almost upon us and so until spring arrives and the bulbs flower, the garden will remain mostly barren. Spring will bring with it new life and new adventures and I am looking forward to it already!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Revolution Foods is coming to Hoboken!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Revolution Foods for The Hoboken Dual Language Charter School (HoLa). At that time HoLa was looking for a food service company that could provide their kids with healthy, wholesome and unprocessed school lunches. Since my child is in the public school system, serviced by Chartwells,  I was all to interested to meet them, gather information and taste the food and to try an find out what makes them different to our current food service provider. 

The first thing that struck me was that their food philosophy was in sync with the actual food they serve! There is no false advertising! Here is an excerpt from their website: 

Our Ingredient Standards (Our Never-Evers)

• NO rBST or hormones in milk and dairy.

• NO Hormones & antibiotics in meat. Our meats are hormone- and antibiotic-free with no animal byproducts used in feed. This kind of meat is referred to in the food industry as “never-ever” meat – it is never ever treated with hormones or antibiotics.
• NO fried food. Our food is prepared fresh daily; we do not serve fried, unhealthily processed, or microwaved food. We do not even allow “flash-fried” products in our meals.
• NO high fructose corn syrup, ever.
• NO artificial trans fats, ever.
• NO artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners.
• All ingredients meet Whole Foods Market’s stringent quality standards.

Our Nutrition Standards

• We only offer non-flavored milk, and all our milk for K-12 students is 1% or nonfat.

• We strive to offer foods with little or no added sugar.
• Our meals on average contain no more than 30% of their calories from total fat and no more than 10% of calories from saturated fats.
• All of our baked goods (tortillas, breads, breakfast pastries) contain whole grains.
• We offer a variety of vegetables, including dark green and orange vegetables, throughout the week.
• We do not serve juice with our breakfasts or lunches.
• We offer a variety of fresh fruits over the course of a week, and we do not serve canned fruit.
• We offer fresh salads every day.
• We feature low-fat dairy products, in our meals.
There you have philosophy every parent can appreciate!

Also, Ive heard that the other 2 Charters in Hoboken may also go with Revolution Foods, meaning greater buying power for them. I'm hoping that at this point we will be able to convince the public schools to give Revolution Foods a shot.

Revolution Foods Organic Mashups Squeezable Fruit, Tropical, 3.17-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 24)Revolution Foods Organic Mashups Squeezable Fruit, Berry, 3.17-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 24)Revolution Foods Organic Mashups Squeezable Fruit, Grape, 3.17-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 24) 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer Hopes

As the school lunches wind down to a complete halt I have been thinking about what to do to keep up with the conversation of changing and advocating for better school lunches.

This week I met with Avis Gold Richards, Executive Producer and Director of a new documentary exploring the consequences of the junk food culture epidemic. What are children munching on? Lunch, A film by Avis Richards, investigates and interviews parents, teachers, nutritionists, students within the Baltimore school district. Its poignant and relevant. There are some other exciting things happening for bird's nest production, like a TV series, so stay tuned for more details.

Also, at the end of this week Montclair's Health and Wellness Partnership organizers are coming out to meet with us here in Hoboken. My hope is to learn from another school district and to figure out how our very own Health and Wellness Committee can function within our town. I am very grateful for their openness and willingness to share information! Thank you Montclair school district!

There are some other partnerships I am working on and will let you know when plans a little more firm.

School lunch Wednesday 6/16: Turkey Wrap

The menu reads as follows: Turkey Wrap, Lettuce & Tomato, Broccoli, Fruit

What they got: Turkey wrap with lettuce, tomato and cheese, an apple and milk

What they did not get was the broccoli.

This weeks menu reads with sandwiches everyday. I'm assuming this is because it's the last week of school for our district before summer break. 

Not a very appetizing's all in the presentation though, had the wraps been cut in half and offered with apple and milk they probably would have been received a more favorably! The kids were rolling the contents out - perfect cause at this point I wanted to know what was inside.

American cheese, turkey, some lettuce and possibly a few slices of tomato, although I could not see it. Components I am not crazy about: tortilla wrap, processed cheese and the turkey lunch meat - loaded with fat, sodium and nitrites, and in my opinion not fit for a child.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

School Lunch Wednesday 6/8: Twin Taco

The menu reads as follows: Twin Taco, Turkey Taco Meat, Cheddar Cheese, Lettuce & Salsa, Fruit.

What they got: Two hard-shell tacos, turkey meat, cheddar cheese, smooth (?) salsa, lettuce w/tomato and a banana

Another twin taco meal with pre-seasoned turkey taco meat. I'm still not sure about this one but I do know I would feel a whole lot more comfortable if I knew they were using fresh ground turkey instead of the pre-packaged stuff.

Vegetables are almost non-existent (I don't count lettuce as a vegetable), but make the turkey from scratch and you can add onions, garlic, carrots, celery, peppers or whatever you feel like or have on hand. Nutritionally this meal can't possibly satisfy a growing body. If you are a nutritionist out there and think otherwise, please feel free to comment and inform me. The banana by far is the most nutritionally packed and is  a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium and manganese, and a very good source of vitamin B6.

As for the rest of meal...I think we can do better! 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

School lunch Tuesday 6/8: Baked BBQ Chicken

The menu reads as follows: Baked BBQ Chicken, Sweet Potato, Fresh Broccoli, Dinner Roll, Fruit

What they got: Baked BBQ chicken, canned sweet potato, fresh broccoli, a dinner roll and a fresh fruit cup.

Yay! Real chicken! I had given up all hope and resolved Tuesdays to being "processed chicken day". Not so! I must say that our lunches have definitely improved and much effort has been put in to provide fresher ingredients for the kids. They LOVED the drumsticks and with a some encouragement ate the broccoli too. 

But boy, are our kids fussy eaters! What happened? I do not remember being this fussy, neither do I remember my brothers being THAT picky. In fact, I don't recall any of the kids in our family (and there are a lot) being fussy or picky eaters! I mean sure there are certain foods you just don't like, for example my one brother just could not stomach okra and would gag if one actually got in his mouth. Fermented vegetables did that for me, especially cauliflower. I ate it, did I enjoy it and ask for more? Hell no!  

I'd say most kids today eat a very simple diet which is why whenever faced with a new food they scowl and frown and say very adamantly:  "I don't like that!" To which I reply: "have you tried it?", to which they reply : "No, but I don't eat it" and then I reply; "But if you haven't tried it, how do you know you don't like it?". And their answer to that is: "I just don't!"  At this point I feel like busting out a few lines from Dr.Suess's Green Eggs and Ham, so I do. They smile and say "I still don't like it! "  Phew! All this to get a kid to try a piece of broccoli!

At least this time round they served fresh fruit cups, filled with  orange segments, pieces of melon & whole grapes- A nice change to the usual syrupy fruit concoctions, which for the record, I rarely see them eat! But I did see kids going back for second servings of the fresh fruit.  The cups are easy to eat & delicious. Definitely a kid-friendly component!  

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

School lunch Monday 6/7: Cheeseburger on W/W Bun

The menu reads as follows: Cheeseburger on W/W Bun, Veggie Pasta Salad, Fresh Vegetable, Apple

What they got: Cheeseburger on W/W bun, broccoli pasta, fresh carrots and apple.

As far as school lunches go I think this one has good array of components- broccoli, carrots, an apple, some pasta, and then there's the burger. The beef patty scares me the most. After countless  recalls I simply don't trust the FDA. Contaminated beef is finding it's way into supermarkets and schools more frequently it seems. Scientists believe that E.coli is becoming resistant to the antibiotics administered to cows routinely and therefore making its way into our food chain more often.

A piece in the New York Times last year, describes how a 22 year old children's dance instructor, ate a hamburger her mom made her which left her in a coma and when she awoke found herself paralyzed!  Such a tragic story and....