Health in Motion: Shaler Area High School
Jun 12

Health in Motion: Shaler Area High School

By Christina Palladino and Kate Elder, Shaler Area High School GATE teachers

This article is a part of a series called Health in Motion brought you by Let’s Move Pittsburgh. Health in Motion is intended to showcase the efforts of schools and community organizations in the Pittsburgh region who are leading children to a healthier future. A new project with a guest author or interviewee will be featured each month. Let’s Move Pittsburgh hopes that Health in Motion will encourage leaders to adopt healthy programs in their communities and inspire readers to make healthy changes in their own lives.

CSA Farm Share Has Lasting Impact

Shaler Area High School’s basement houses the typical things you might see in a large public high school: a cafeteria, the boiler room, several classrooms, a wrestling room. So you might be surprised to also pass a toddler on a tricycle or hear the chatter of young children busily working on an art project. Thanks to the dedication on our Family and Consumer Science Department, Shaler Area High School also houses a well respected preschool program for district families, taught by Mrs. Laura Garman and many enthusiastic student helpers.

For the second year in a row, Shaler Area High School GATE (gifted and talented education) students have worked closely with the Shaler Area Preschool students  on a mission to introduce young children and their families to the concept that healthy eating can not only be fun, but affordable as well. Through a partnership with Kretschmann Family Organic Farm in Rochester, PA, we purchased a winter CSA farm share providing us with five separate produce shipments from December 2016 through March 2017. Parents and caregivers of the preschool students, as well as high school students, were encouraged to take a portion of the CSA produce home to prepare new dishes with the entire family.

We received interesting feedback as to what the preschool and high school families did with their share of the produce. For example, a four year old student and her grandmother made potato soup with ingredients including carrots, turnips, and kale. Another preschool family incorporated potatoes and carrots with their baked chicken dinner. A high school student took home some left over beets from the preschool lesson and created a more sophisticated dish of brown sugar glazed roasted beets.

In addition to the CSA share, high school students, with our guidance, created several hands-on lessons that demonstrated to all involved that eating healthy is easier then you might think. Lessons included identifying produce such as carrots, garlic, onions, beets, and potatoes and where these veggies may grow—in the ground, on the ground or on a vine. Another lesson incorporated the children’s book, Chicks and Salsa, into a fun activity. Families were then given homemade, organic salsa, canned by the Kretschmann family to take home to enjoy. The children’s book, Peppa Pig and the Vegetable Garden, was the backdrop for the final lesson that provided families with not only their own copy of the book but seeds to plant their own garden just like Peppa Pig!

Overall, the positive feedback from the parents was again overwhelming. Students were able to spend quality time together enjoying a healthy family meal. This program was able to positively affect a large group of families, with diverse ages, incomes and eating habits.