Dear Journal, How Much Sugar Is Too Much?

Last Tuesday wasn’t only Broccoli Day for the Chesnut Changers; it was also the club’s after-school meeting day. Keeping up the momentum of promoting healthy eating, our topic was sugar consumption. Chesnut Changer Parent Rebecca Hernandez kicked off the meeting with a brief review of  healthy versus unhealthy sources of sugar, and the effects of eating too much sugar. Ms. Hernandez was impressed as hands shot up and the students readily answered questions about what sugar can do to the body, and where you can get the sugar your body needs (whole vegetables, grains and fruits). Ms. Hernandez reminded the students that to be good stewards of our community and environment, we need to be in good health ourselves. Then it was time to get to work!

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Using the American Heart Association’s (AHA) 2009 recommendations, we established a goal of maximum 12 grams (3 teaspoons) of added sugar per day (does not include sugar from whole foods). After building 12g structures from 2g sugar cubes, the Chesnut Changers looked up the sugar content of some of their favorite foods and drinks. Older students were paired with younger students to help them examine their boxes of cereal, mac-n-cheese, yogurt and crackers, and build a comparative sugar cube structure. That’s when the fun began.

Chesnut Changer Teacher Ginna Hobgood asked the students to guess how much added sugar she had discovered was in one cup of frosted flakes someone had brought in. No one guessed 16g and the kids were shocked after Ms. Hobgood announced the answer. Thus began the game of “Guess How Much Sugar, ” Chesnut Changer Joseph McCloskey taking a turn to demonstrate how sweet raisins are. Ms. Hernandez pointed out that while grapes are one of the sweetest fruits (and dried raisins concentrate their sweetness), their sugar content doesn’t count towards the 12g because it is naturally occurring in a whole fruit. As the children compared their sugar structures, we discussed the fact that this is only how much sugar we are having for breakfast, lunch or snacks, never mind dessert!

Soon boxes were being turned inside out and cut up to create covers for the kids’ new sugar journals. Chesnut Changer Sofia Renals demonstrated how to make the journal using scrap paper and ribbon, and gave examples of how sugar intake could be reported in words or pictures. The students were challenged with keeping track of their sugar intake for at least 3 days over the holidays. Admittedly during a very sweet time of year, this exercise should provide some interesting results, which we’ll share at the start of our next meeting in January.

F2S Local Food Marketing Works!

“They don’t normally eat broccoli this much.”

That was the report from the cafeteria staff during lunch on Tuesday, which featured Georgia grown broccoli.

The Chesnut Changers’ marketing worked so well that some classes were not offered the broccoli because supply lagged a bit behind demand as the broccoli flew off the counter onto trays. The bright-colored freshly picked broccoli not only looked appetizing, according to the kids, it tasted great. Many ate the entire serving, and one remarked, “This is good broccoli,” but amended, “my favorite is eating it with marinara sauce.” Ms. Clein’s class wanted to know when they could go back through the line to grab some broccoli, as a new batch was being prepared when they arrived for lunch. Guidance Counselor Betty Sule encouraged the kids by asking for a show of hands and commending the kids who were eating their broccoli.

Chesnut Changers took care of business! Three months into the program, they knew exactly what to do, and they organized themselves to share the responsibilities of awarding hand stamps and taking count of their class’ broccoli eater percentages. According to the Broccoli Day Marketing Report, the standout class this month was Ms. Stacia Brown’s 3rd grade, who not only all ate their broccoli, but had one student who brought broccoli from home. To make sure that kids who bring lunch have an opportunity to participate, we may need to widen our outreach, by asking teachers to announce in their homerooms that a local food is on the lunch menu that week, and/or by sending home a note in the weekly courier.

Consistent labeling was used to point out the broccoli in the lunch line, and our F2S posters with the kids’ slogan made an appearance at the lunch line entrance. Upon examining the proximity of Buford (where the local produce is grown) to Dunwoody, several students wondered where broccoli normally comes from (“China?” one guessed), and were surprised to hear, “California.” This and other interesting facts about broccoli can be found in the Chesnut Changers’ Broccoli Fun Facts sheet.

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Chesnut Changer’s Report: Joseph McCloskey, 4th Grader

Chesnut Changer's Report

Hello, anyone like sweet potatoes?

The food of the month was sweet potatoes. You may have heard some of the CHESNUT CHANGERS on the morning announcements. But did anyone pay attention to what they said? On Wednesday, November 16th, we had Georgia-grown sweet potatoes served in the cafeteria. If they come from far away, they might spoil. We also are helping the earth by making fertile soil as we learn to compost.  We made scarecrows to, of course, scare off crows in between Kindergarten hall and 4th Grade hall.

This is student reporter Joseph McCloskey for the CHESNUT CHANGERS. Thank you for reading.