Chesnut PTA Brings Smoothie Food Truck to Field Day

Last year when Chesnut’s Ecology Club was formed, we ended the year with a grand finish:  winning a grant to fund a farmer’s stand and chef demo during Field Day. Where once cotton candy had been served, now the children were snacking on freshly baked pizzas with Chesnut Garden’s herbs and local, organically grown arugula, onions and strawberries.

One of the questions often asked in a grant application is how your organization plans to sustain the new program or facility. Turns out that the parents, teachers, students and staff so enjoyed this new healthy, fresh snack, that PTA added a line item for it as they planned this year’s budget. Special thanks to PTA President Ann Laffoon and PTA Vice President of Ways and Means Elizabeth Davis for supporting healthy eating at Chesnut. Beyond Field Day food, these parents also made Chesnut’s Wellness Team an official entity last summer, which gave parents and teachers a platform to introduce new health, nutrition and fitness initiatives this year.

IMG_2416Having Decatur’s Nectar food truck serve fresh fruit smoothies at Field Day perfectly culminated our year. After appearing in our new spring and fall Farm to School nutrition lessons, “Tasting a Rainbow of Plants” and “Eat Real First, Second Read Labels,” Super Kid returned to remind our students of the health benefits of eating fresh, multi-colored fruit. Students, teachers, staff and parents chose between an orange smoothie (with banana, mango, pineapple and orange) and a red smoothie (with strawberry, blueberry, banana and apple).

IMG_2419Though almost all agreed that the smoothies were delicious — “It tastes like ice cream, except it’s good for you!” — there were several chanted arguments about which color was best. “ORANGE!” “RED!” “ORANGE!” “RED!”

Fifth grade teacher and after-school step team sponsor Ms. Radden created an impromptu routine for the smoothies: “These smoothies are the best. The best of all the rest!”

Best of all, Wellness Team Co-Chairs Angela Renals and Jessica Spencer were asked by many students, “Which one is better for you?” “Which one has less sugar?” “How much sugar is in this smoothie?” “Which one’s super powers are better?” and “Can we have seconds?”

IMG_2420If we have smoothies again next year, we will definitely plan a larger quantity to make sure everyone gets their fill. Sadly, the last customers, Ms. Erbesfield’s second graders, missed out on the Field Day smoothies because we ran short. When they came out to the Chesnut Garden the following week, we made sure to bring them generous helpings of mango strawberry banana smoothie to make it up to them.


What Will Chesnut’s New PTA Wellness Team Do?

The mission of Chesnut’s new PTA Wellness Team is to promote and encourage healthy habits for students, families, faculty and staff of Chesnut Charter Elementary School in support of DeKalb County’s Wellness Policy. We regard health as a state of physical, mental and emotional wellness that leads to greater success inside and out of the classroom.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation suggests that an effective Wellness group have about a dozen participants, and Chesnut’s Wellness Team has more than 20, including our principal Ms. Veronica Williams, our school nurse, our health/PE coach, several teachers, our cafeteria manager and a dozen parents. Want to join us? Email

So what are we up to, and how can you get involved?

1. Ecology Club, Farm to School and Gardening programs report to PTA Wellness Team. Garden Leader Carissa Malone has already started hosting classes in the garden (more on that in a later blog post).

2. We are working with Coach Dykema to launch a pilot nutrition unit (one week of Farm to School-influenced nutrition lesson plans) for all PE classes, aiming for October surrounding Food Day.

3. We have reached out to parents requesting their support for “healthy celebrations” to get away from sugary snacks and drinks.

4. Fourth grade teacher Mr. Ian Shiverick is leading the implementation of the new Cougar Kudos program, which, in compliance with DeKalb County’s Wellness Policy, encourages teachers and staff to replace food rewards (i.e., candy, ice cream parties) with “kudos” that the children may earn for good behavior. Every two weeks, the leading class chooses a fun and healthy reward from a list we are compiling, such as free choice in P.E., Crazy Hat Day, etc. If you are willing to host a special craft or activity as an incentive for a winning class, please email your ideas to

5. We are talking with PTA event planners to implement healthy food and drink choice. If you want to see healthier foods at BINGO night, Family Dinner night, Valentine’s Family Celebration, etc., please volunteer to help staff these events by emailing

6. We have joined the Healthy Halls Wellness Program, developed by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. This research-based program promotes Strong4Life Healthy Habits ( to elementary school students, their parents and school staff. Next week our students will attend a curriculum-based, dynamic Healthy Halls theatrical performance, focusing on four healthy habits:

  • Make 1/2 your plate veggies and fruits
  • Be active for 60 minutes
  • Limit screen time to one hour
  • Drink more water and limit sugary drinks

7. We are polling parents to find out how we can improve Chesnut’s school lunch. If you haven’t yet, please take the 10-question survey (it’s really quick!) and weigh in:

8. We are brainstorming ways to encourage biking and walking to Chesnut, working with Safe Routes to School and Walk to School parent coordinators.

This group is excited about increasing opportunities for nutrition education, physical activity, emotional well-being and the encouragement of healthy habits for our community. If you have suggestions or want to get involved, please email