If you’ve strolled through the Dining Commons, you’ve noticed the bulletin board that features ever changing nutritional information for our students and staff. Recently, the board got a winter themed make over with help from students. Interestingly, one student wrote healthy facts on the snowflakes that she had learned from prior bulletin board information. Way to go nutrition staff and students!
Students at The Learning Center Charter School maintain a vegetable garden on campus which has them working in the dirt all school year long. Kindergarten through eighth grade students at the school do everything in the garden from weeding, planting, watering and harvesting fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers.
Gardening and agriculture have always been important at the school. Director, Mary Jo Dyre, believes that gardening engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn. “Gardens are living laboratories where our students learn everything from team work to food production and lessons can be taught across the curriculum,” says Dyre.
In September, students planted turnip seeds as part of their winter garden. In December, students excitedly harvested the turnips and learned that the root and greens are edible. All of these young gardeners were given a hearty serving to take home, while others eagerly ate their turnip raw.
Emily Willey, elementary science and outdoor learning coordinator at the charter school, makes gardening a regular part of the daily routine for students at the school. “Playing an active role in food production teaches young people everything from agriculture to nutrition. These kids love seeing the fruits of their labor and are willing to eat unfamiliar vegetables as a result.”
Recently, students in fourth grade have been learning about nutrition. In the lab experiment seen in these photos, students were testing a variety of foods for the presence of starch. Starch is an indicator of carbohydrates and these students were fascinated to learn that many more foods contain carbohydrates than they had guessed.
A few weeks ago, students in first grade spent time preparing the fall garden by planting spinach. Gardening engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn. Gardens are living laboratories and these students were more than happy to get their hands dirty!
Everyone knows the importance of a good breakfast. Bottom line, students who are “fueled up” with a nutritious meal are increasing the chances that their mental and physical stamina is up to par for a great day at school.
The Learning Center! Charter School joins more than 18,000 schools across the nation with assistance from a federal program called, Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). CEP allows schools in low-income areas to offer breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students while eliminating the traditional school meal application process.
Authorized as a part of Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, CEP eliminates the burden of collecting household applications to determine eligibility for school meal programs and reduces the potential stigma associated with free meals. No household application means less paperwork for parents, and no worries about lunch accounts.
“For the school it means reduced paperwork and administrative costs,” said Susan Blomeley, Nutrition Director at The Learning Center. “There is no need to track unpaid meal charges and more nourished students are ready to learn and grow.”
The Learning Center’s Early Bird Breakfast Club was created in an effort to give every opportunity for all students to eat a healthy breakfast. Since early 2000, The Learning Center! Charter School has offered a Universal Breakfast where all students eat for free. The big news this year is that all students will now get a free lunch in addition to the free breakfast. The school will not take free and reduced applications this year, as all students will eat free.
Students at TLC aren’t strangers to getting their hands dirty. Why? Because gardening engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn.
Gardens are living laboratories where our students learn everything from team work to food production and lessons can be taught across the curriculum.
Gardening encourages students to become active participants in the learning process.
The beautification of our campus is a happy result of hands on learning!
Did you know that TLC specifically sourced whole grain grits to serve at breakfast? House-Autry Stone Ground Grits are made the old fashioned way using granite stones. They grind the whole kernel of corn to retain the natural oils and produce a more flavorful product. TLC Nutrition Director, Susan Blomeley, likes these grits because, “These stone ground grits retain their natural germ and bran, which means they not only taste better, but also retain the antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber usually lost in the refinement process.”
As an added bonus, House-Autry is a North Carolina based company!
Preschool students have been exploring the great outdoors by playing in the garden at TLC! Students went to explore the feel of garden dirt and see what kind of plants grow in cool weather in the garden. Students became acquainted with kale and collard greens, and learned that vegetables get their vitamins from the soil. They also learned that eating fruits and vegetables give us those same vitamins that help us grow big and strong.