Breakfast in the Classroom and Fuel Up to Play 60 School Spotlight: Ella C. Pittman Elementary School in Harvey, LA

When an inspiring school breakfast story comes across our desk we just have to share it with you, and this recent story out of Louisiana is an inspiring one. Ella C. Pittman Elementary School has seen a lot of award-winning action recently, winning not one, not two, but three health and wellness related prizes! The district was awarded the 2010-11 State School Health Award as well as the Superintendent’s Platinum Level School Health Award, while teacher Dean Tessitore—who is also a Wellness Council leader at the school—won Fuel Up to Play 60 Program Advisor of the year for Louisiana. Congratulations to Ella C. Pittman, and Mr. Tessitore!

Integrating nutrition and physical education were integral parts of the school’s program to focus on teaching students healthier habits. This included lessons on reducing fast food consumption, and increasing consumption of healthier fare like low-fat dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as an emphasis on physical activity.

Ella C. Pittman students also benefited from a Victory Garden, which was made possible through a grant from the National World War II Museum, and which introduced students and faculty members to gardening basics; students ate carrot cookies and cauliflower soup made from their garden’s bounty. The school implemented a variety of programs to increase interest and participation in these healthy pursuits: ballroom dancing, dance routines, and participation in contests from the Southeast Dairy Association (one to increase dairy consumption, the other to create a school spirit video).

Pittman was also part of a group of six schools that implemented a Breakfast in the Classroom program, and the students themselves were given the responsibility of program management, from getting breakfast to the classrooms, to eating while activities like announcements and attendance were going on, and performing the post-meal cleanup routine. In addition to seeing a 31 percent increase in student consumption of low-fat milk, the school saw a whopping 50 percent increase in breakfast participation. Way to go, Pittman!

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