November 5, 2014
Healthy changes, healthy conversations are part of the Fontenelle culture
“We have to help the whole child to get them to learn academically,” says Eric Nelson, principal at Fontenelle Elementary.
“That means looking for different ways to help our children, especially those who live in poverty areas.”
His school has made what he calls “a big push” for wellness, thanks to support from Partners for Healthy Schools, local corporations and organizations, and federal programs.
At Fontenelle, wellness starts with giving every child the opportunity to have breakfast.
The school offers a “grab-and-go” program that serves 500 students in 15 minutes.
When the bell rings at 8:40 a.m., kids take their chosen bag — either a hot or cold healthy meal — to eat in their classroom.
Not only does the arrangement move people efficiently through the cafeteria, the program is making an impact.
“Teachers and staff see the difference in kids when their survival needs are met and they feel better about the day,” Nelson says. “The program has been a big eye-opener.”
As part of a neighborhood where parents are concerned about their children’s safety, Fontenelle also has worked with Live Well Omaha’s Safe Routes to School on the Boltage Program.
This incentive program tracks how many times a child walks or bikes to school — a fun and safe way that’s getting the school community more active.
Working with a local Walmart, the school is taking part in a national fresh fruit and vegetable program that aims to start conversations about healthy options between students and parents.
“Some parents have made comments about how their kids make a point of taking them to the healthy parts of the grocery store,” says Nelson.
“It’s become part of our culture, which is huge as we move forward. Partners has been a perfect connection for us to the resources we need.”