A group of 5th graders at Spaziano Elementary School in Providence experienced firsthand how persuasive student voices can lead to positive change in school cafeterias.
As part of a six-month nutrition education project led by the URI SNAP-Ed Program staff, 50 students at Spaziano completed environmental scans in their school cafeteria this past fall to learn about the types of fruits and vegetables currently served for school lunch, and barriers to eating them. After group discussions and at-home interviews about family recipes, the students then worked in the classroom to develop their own recipes and conduct taste tests with their classmates.
Working with the URI staff and food service provider Sodexo, the fifth grade classes chose a final winning recipe from 40 submitted produce-based recipes to feature as a new school lunch menu item. On Spaziano Garlic Roasted Potatoes Day, students tasted the winning recipe during lunch and voted on whether this recipe should be incorporated into the regular meal program, with an overwhelming majority voting YES. Sodexo Providence has agreed to add Spaziano Potatoes to all elementary and secondary school lunch menus this spring.
As a result of this positive and exciting student-led learning experience, the URI SNAP-Ed Program team hopes to repeat the project in another Providence elementary school next year!