The Cafeteria as Classroom: Cultivating Cafeteria Environments that Promote Healthy Eating
The Farm to School movement brings attention to the important role schools play in ensuring that students have access to healthy food, and teaching them about healthy eating. This includes addressing the food that is served (ideally fresh and local food); education about agriculture, health and nutrition; and hands-on opportunities to grow and cook food. Paraeducators may be involved in food education activities, and are frequently relied upon to oversee the school cafeteria at lunch time. The cafeteria is a particular focus of this workshop since it is a learning environment that is often overlooked, and paraeducators are important teachers in the cafeteria classroom, teaching students to make healthy food choices, and helping to make mealtimes a nurturing and enjoyable social experience. This interactive workshop will provide opportunities to discuss the many factors that make the cafeteria classroom work well, and will offer tools and strategies for making it work even better. The presenters will share a cafeteria assessment tool they developed, as well as handouts with helpful tips about what to say and do to encourage healthy eating, and strategies to manage students' behavior to make the cafeteria a pleasant and nurturing place.