I believe that one of my greatest contributions to the classroom was that I was maternal. I was filled with passion for what was right and would act like an agitated Mama Bear if I felt like someone was doing wrong by my students. Maybe I’d get upset because there was disrespect in a relationship between two students; sometimes students were treated as if they didn’t matter; and often, their health was ignored by others who should have been making it a priority.
Now that I am no longer in the classroom, I am especially grateful to people like Miguel, the food service director in Novato. His number one priority is that the students in his district eat well. As a trained chef, he naturally leads to demonstrate his affection for people by feeding them with quality ingredients and with care. He wears his Papa Bear demeanor on his sleeve, and will fight tooth and nail if anyone argues with his mission.
I met with Miguel earlier this week in the new cafeteria on the Novato High School campus, where I used to work. I was amazed at how beautiful the completed project was, and how well it was designed to appeal to students. Yes, the light filled cafeteria actually appeals to teenagers, who could otherwise leave campus for their meals. Music filled the room as students filed in and lined up at the salad bars before heading to the hot food and a-la-carte line. And they didn’t just buy their food and flee – they stayed! They enjoyed the standing-height square and round cafe style tables and socialized. On campus. In the cafeteria. That very rarely happens at the school where I taught last year, where there were old rectangular institutionalized tables and bare white walls.
I want to shine the spotlight on the positive outcomes of Papa Bear’s progressive thinking.
- When the food is displayed in an appealing way, students want to eat it.
- Students prefer REAL food
- When fresh food and water are provided to students, they are better learners and develop better eating habits at home.
- Students who are respected and given the opportunity to provide feedback participate more and help to improve the program.
- Chocolate milk is NOT necessary in a school food program. And neither are Doritos, even if they are disguised as nutritious.
- We have to keep feeding students well – for many of them, this is the only food they get every day…
I hope to continue to promote healthy eating in schools, but in the meantime, I am thrilled to have a papa bear like Miguel out there, doing what needs to be done.
Get a FREE Cook & Learn Activity!
As a subscriber, you'll get free Cook and Learn Activities with kids, simple recipes and special offers delivered right to your inbox!