Board discussing exercise, healthy eating policy
There could soon be many more healthy choices in Austin schools.
The Austin Public Schools Board discussed strengthening its wellness policy Monday to place more emphasis on exercise and good nutrition. That could include strengthening the district’s wellness committee and implementing policies to ensure more academic, physical and behavioral growth in the district.
“What’s important is that we move forward with setting procedures in the district,” said board member Kathy Green.
Green and board member Angie Goetz discussed wellness trends and studies which show good eating choices and physical activity helps students learn better. They cited Sumner Elementary School’s new policy of getting children active in the classroom for 15 minutes a day as a way to increase the academic and behavioral climate.
Sumner students take a couple of minutes during the day to exercise in class, as studies show the brain releases proteins which leads to better brain development after getting even small amounts of exercise. The program, called Boost Up, is also present at Woodson Kindergarten Center, where kindergartners exercise for 20 minutes each day.
It’s that sort of initiative which needs to go district wide, according to Green and Goetz.
In addition, the board discussed the results of a protein deficiency study Hormel Foods Corp. researchers conducted with Neveln Elementary School first-graders, which supported Green’s and Goetz’s call to increase emphasis on wellness. Researchers looked at what students ate during school breakfast for multiple days and tracked eating patterns over a two week period. In addition, students answered surveys to show what they ate for breakfast.
Neveln Principal Dewey Schara shared some of Hormel’s findings with the board, as Hormel representatives weren’t able to attend the special session. Though Schara only gave a limited amount of information, he said Hormel researchers found 14 percent of first-grade students skipped breakfast every day, while only 18 percent had milk with their breakfast.
“As a building principal, this is some pretty interesting information in terms of what we serve, when we serve, how much we serve, etc.,” Schara said. “With 14 percent of our kids not eating breakfast at all in first grade, that’s still an alarming number in my mind.”
Superintendent David Krenz said Hormel researchers would present their findings in more detail to the board at a later date.