What people eat is, on one hand, highly personal with roots in culture and religion. The Post Oak School is very aware and respectful of this point in our diverse school community. On the other hand, diet is a major factor for children’s sound growth and development, as well as in how they function and learn on a daily basis. In addition, eating habits, healthful or otherwise, are established in childhood; therefore, learning about nutrition is an important part of the curriculum for any child.
The points we focus on in this part of the curriculum are objective and scientifically based.
- Certain diet elements are essential for good health, growth, and optimal function.
- Certain diet elements do not contribute to health and, in excess, can be harmful.
- Our country has a crisis of obesity that includes children.
- We live in a society where many distortions of a normal healthful diet are considered “normal,” including fast food; eating on the run; large serving sizes; high-calorie foods with little or no nutritional value; highly refined foods; foods with high salt, sugar, and fat content.
The principles we strive to promote are:
- appropriately sized servings;
- additive-free foods (learning to read labels);
- low-fat, low-salt, low-sugar, and low-cholesterol choices;
- avoidance of fried foods and trans-fats;
- lots of fresh fruits and vegetables;
- whole-grain foods rather than refined foods;
- whole fruits over juices;
- the importance of fiber;
- protein, whether from meat, fish, beans, nuts, or dairy products.
Based on this approach, items with excessive amounts of added sugar may be sent home at the discretion of the teacher.
Food is not just the essential “fuel” for our bodies to function and develop; it also, universally, serves a social function. At The Post Oak School, we strive to promote this aspect of food by conducting snack and lunch time in a way that provides for the social element and the exercise of grace and courtesy:
- setting the table using tablecloths or placemats, china, glassware and silverware, napkins, centerpieces, etc;
- setting aside a special place for a few children to eat snack when they wish;
- teaching table manners:
- saying “please” and “thank you”;
- waiting to eat until everyone is served;
- chewing with the mouth closed;
- not speaking with food in the mouth;
- using silverware and napkins properly;
- waiting for others to finish;
- cleaning up and making the table ready for the next person.
To promote individual responsibility and to maintain the integrity of the classroom lunch routine, please do not deliver your child’s lunch during the school day.
The children are learning about the environment and recycling. We encourage the use of reusable containers and the avoidance of excessive packaging.
Though the school does have microwave ovens, it is not practical for Young Children’s Community and Primary children to use them to reheat food; we encourage the use of wide-mouth thermoses. Elementary students have some limited use of microwave ovens: this involves scheduling, and your child’s teacher can provide you with more information.
Children should help prepare their own lunches until they are able to do it themselves. Involving them in shopping, reading labels, and planning meals is important in their ownership of what they eat. The more children know about what is good for them and why, as well as what is not good for them and why not, the more they will be able and willing to make positive choices on their own.
- Any raw, canned, or cooked vegetable
- Leafy greens, edible stems, root vegetables, tubers
- Any fresh, canned (low sugar), cooked, or dried fruit
- Succulent fruits
- Dried fruits: nuts and seeds
- Breads: whole-grain wheat, rye, or soy; cornbread; English muffin; French, Italian; tortilla (corn or flour); raisin; pita; bagels; waffles or pancakes; crackers (graham, rice, zwieback, Melba toast) naan, roti, lavash, matzah
- Cereals: cooked oatmeal, grits, or farina; ready-to-eat wheat, corn, rice, or oat
- Cooked grains: rice, bulgur, pasta, barley, amaranth, quinoa
- Look for grains with at least three grams of fiber (breads, crackers, and rice)
Milk and Dairy Products
- Milk: whole milk, reduced fat (1% or 2%), skim, buttermilk, powdered milk, yogurt
- Alternative milk: Almond, soy, oat, hempseed; nut vegetable or grain alternatives
- Cheese: cheddar, Parmesan, Swiss, Monterey jack, provolone, ricotta, cottage, Muenster, feta, saag
- Nut cheeses
- Poultry, beef, lamb, pork, fish, shellfish/shrimp
- Legumes: Dried peas or beans
- Tofu, seitan, tempeh
- Vegetable protein mixed with meat, poultry, or fish
- Peanut butter—note: do not offer to children under age two because of potential allergy
- Nut or seed butters
Ingredients to Look for
- Whole-wheat flour, whole-grain flour, stone-ground whole-wheat flour
- Ingredients to Avoid
- “partially hydrogenated,” “enriched wheat flour,” “high-fructose corn syrup”
Post Oak promotes a view of healthy living that encompasses the individual, the local community, and the Earth as a whole. The school maintains a policy that food items brought to school reflect a healthy diet that is appropriate for the adolescent stage of life and its needs, both physical and cognitive. Likewise, students must become conscious owners of their food eating habits in general and become aware of eating foods in moderation.
Students may not bring food or beverages into any class without the express permission of the course instructor. At no time during the school day may students chew gum.
Middle School Nutrition and Mealtime
Once students enter Middle School, it is normal to test boundaries and explore roles and behaviors that they consider more adult. For this reason, it is especially important that parents and teachers model good habits and communicate consistent, clear expectations regarding nutrition. In addition to reviewing the nutrition guidelines above, we ask for your support with the following:
- Expect students to be responsible for preparing lunches. Students are not permitted to order out or have lunch delivered.
- Our goal in the Middle School is a trash-free lunch. Students should bring reusable containers.
- If food must be heated, two microwaves are available for preparation or heating of food.
- Students are welcome to bring their own healthy snacks for consumption during the day.