When school starts again in the fall, students at Bruce Randolph School in Denver will have a longer lunch period and healthier food. The changes are the end result of a class project and it was the students who spearheaded the effort.
Students in the Speech and Debate class worked with the DU Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning to create change in their school. They chose the issue of school lunch because the students felt it had long been a problem.
“The lines are too long. A lot of people are hungry and the lines are too long and they would go,” said Maria Carrillo, 15, a 9th grader.
“I thought that our food wasn’t that healthy and sometimes I wouldn’t eat because it was gross,” said Lorena Luna, 15, a 9th grader.
Luna, Carrillo and their whole class decided that change was needed.
“We wanted to accomplish to get healthier lunch and get it longer and we achieved that,” Luna told CBS4.
The students learned everything there was to know about lunch, where the food comes from, how it’s prepared and how long they had to eat it. With the help of the DU students, they got a $500 HEROES Grant from UnitedHealthcare. The HEROES grants are awarded annually to local student projects aimed at curbing childhood obesity. With the $500, they brought in a new, healthier vendor for a food tasting.
“They brought enchiladas,” Luna explained.
All the students in the school were invited to try the enchiladas and then surveyed about how they tasted and would they prefer healthier lunch options.
“The results were that everybody through it was good and it was a better idea,” Luna said of bring in a new food vendor.
“As the year progressed, I was really proud that they chose this issue and really excited because they were able to make change on that issue,” said Libbi Peters, the language arts teacher in charge of the project.
The class made a presentation to the administration, suggesting a new food vendor and a 10 minute extension to the lunch period giving students time to eat and enjoy their food. The administration agreed and the changes will go into effect in the fall of 2010. The lesson from this project will stick with these students for a lifetime.
“I learned that working together we can make a change and like taking time we can achieve what we want,” Luna said.
“I feel like we can make a difference…like students can actually be heard,” Carrillo added.