Wisconsin School Cuts Crime By Changing the Menu

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photo: J. Novak

Whether we like it or not the food that we eat doesn't just affect our waistlines, it affects the way that we feel. If you're mindful of the way you feel after munching on a Hershey bar and a coke then you're less likely to eat junk food because the highs and the lows become too hard to bear. But in a move that may seem slightly more controversial, one school principal in Appleton, Wis., changed the school menu to cut crime at the school. According to a recent story on WELL Said, LuAnn Coenen, the principal at a high school, reduced fighting, weapons-carrying, and general lack of focus and discipline in the school by changing the menu.Christina Pirello wrote on her blog WELL Said about the Wisconsin school that took an innovative approach to fixing crime and discontent. According to the story, vending machines were the first to go, replaced by water coolers and processed burgers and fries became fruits and vegetables.

"With the departure of junk food, she also saw the departure of vandalism, litter and the need for police patrolling her hallways. The students were calm, socially engaged and focused on their schoolwork. Problems were minimal. And all Ms. Coenen did was change the menu."

In fact, Ms. Coenen's initiative was part of a larger pilot program called "Education for Healthy Kids," which was initially funded with Wisconsin tobacco settlement money. For the past eight years Johnston Elementary School, and more recently, Madison Middle School became involved. Today, the entire Appleton School District is a part of the program.

Additional funding for the initiative came from Natural Ovens of Manitowoc owners Paul and Barbara Stitt, who donated $100,000 to fund the addition of a healthy, natural breakfast at Appleton Central Alternative High School.

According to Appleton Area School District:

"Researchers know that chronically undernourished children must use their energy for tasks in order of importance: first for maintenance of critical organ functions, second for growth, and last for social interaction and overall cognitive functioning."

According to a story in Ode Magazine. The brain is an active machine. It uses a whopping 20 percent of our energy. In order to generate that energy, we need a broad range of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and unsaturated fatty acids that we get from nutritious meals. These nutrients aren't provided in the host of processed junk food that many of us call food.

The board's adopted nutritional standards say that all foods for sale at the school may have no more than 30 percent of calories from fat (except for nuts and seeds), no more than 10 percent of total calories can come from saturated fats. Candy is not permitted for sale on school grounds either. You can look at the complete list of standards here.

Read more about the program on WELL Said.

Appleton's pilot program was featured on Good Morning America, Good Housekeeping and the staff at the school was even interviewed for the film Super Size Me.

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More on School Nutrition:
Getting School Nutrition on the Front Burner Again
Are School Lunches Safe?: 26,500 Schools Lack Proper Inspections
Calling All Fat Kids On the Block: Mrs. Obama Says Let's Move!

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