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Tolt Middle School ELD Students Learn About Food Services in Riverview

Jill Klune’s English Language Development (ELD) classes at Tolt Middle School recently tackled a multi-week project exploring the question: “Should schools ban unhealthy food?” What started as a simple question turned into a deep dive as part of their “Healthy Choices” unit. Students researched information and statistics about increasing obesity among young people and took a closer look at how food service operates within their own school district and specifically, how Tolt's cafeteria works.

To gain a deeper understanding, students prepared a list of questions for Riverview Food Services Supervisor, Shelly Young, and Food Services Program Assistant, Robin Budig. They spent a day visiting Klune’s ELD classes, comprised of students in grades 6-8, answering those questions and also taking them on a tour of Tolt’s cold storage facility, pantry, kitchen, and lunchroom.

Among the students thought-provoking questions:

• Do we ever survey families about favorite recipes?

• How can we reduce the food we waste?

• How can we bring in or suggest new food items that students might enjoy?

• What do we do with any food that is expired?

• How long does it take to cook food served to students?

• What is your favorite item served at Tolt Middle School?

“The interview and tour allowed students to collect information for a final unit project where they advocated about one change they think our school cafeteria should make,” shared Klune.

After taking notes from the Food Services presentation, students prepared “podcasts” or audio recordings summarizing what they had learned through the entire learning experience. They then divided into groups and made a second round of podcast/audio recordings, sent directly to the Food Services team, proposing a new item for consideration on the lunch menu. In addition to describing the recipe, students indicated the nutritional value of their proposed item and provided evidence and reasoning as to why middle school students

would enjoy eating this meal during their lunch period.

“The audio recordings were terrific, and I really enjoyed listening to them. I was so impressed with what the students learned and shared. We had so much fun teaching the students more about Food Services and answering great questions about how and why we do what we do,” said Young.

“The students developed so many great ideas,” added Klune. “You can see all the thinking and practice that went into the final podcasts they created.”

Some of the podcast highlights include:

The students’ efforts has led to Young considering and evaluating the breadth of student recommendations she has received. Through Mrs. Klune’s efforts, this “Healthy Choices” unit has not only demonstrated the importance of teaching students about healthy food choices, but also the power that comes from being provided a platform to advocate for change.


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