College, high school students collaborate on National Eating Healthy Day

High School and Skidmore studentsThe blenders whirred, the berries shook out of the bags, and the frozen bananas called for a spatula to keep the smoothies going.

When the Saratoga Springs High School Human Nutrition and Culinary Arts class students arrived for their 9:12 a.m. class on Wednesday, Nov. 4, they joined Skidmore College’s nutrition students for a lively discussion about National Eating Healthy Day – and hands-on practice at preparing and serving healthy food to their fellow students.

The two classes came together under the guidance of Elizabeth Morris, who teaches Saratoga Springs’ College in the High School class, Human Nutrition and Culinary Arts; and Dr. Paul Arciero, professor of nutrition and exercise science at Skidmore College, and a member of the Capital Region Advisory Board of the American Heart Association.

Skidmore student Jack Dixon held an impromptu nutrition class with the high school students who had gathered in the bay where he and three other students worked between blenders on two opposite shelves, a work station between them and a fridge behind them.

Dixon fielded questions about what to eat after a workout and cautioned students against devoting themselves to just one food.

“People hear that bananas are good, for instance, so they eat seven a day,” he said, storing his finished smoothie in the fridge.

Morris and Arciero have been bringing the students together for a few years.

“Paul used to come and talk to the students,” Morris said. “Then he invited us to his lab, where he does research. Many of my students are thinking about studying nutrition and exercise, and they were mesmerized. The first time we went, a group of adults had just eaten a lot of pancakes, and Paul and his staff were measuring their glucose levels.”

Margaret Sullivan is the school lunch program director for the Saratoga Springs City School District, and a fan of the collaboration between the two nutrition classes.

“We share the goals of National Eating Healthy Day and the American Heart Association,” Sullivan said. “We welcome the Skidmore students and the National Eating Healthy Day emphasis on a heart-healthy diet. Saratoga students reap the benefit of our partnership with Skidmore by sampling new foods and learning more about good nutrition. Our school lunch program plays an important role in providing nutritious meals that encourage more fruits vegetables and whole grains.”

“I’m so impressed with Margaret Sullivan and Beth Morris for their leadership roles in promoting healthy eating among children and teens through nutritious school meals and education,” Arciero said.

“My nutrition class at Skidmore College participates in National Eating Healthy Day because we want to give back to our community by educating and promoting healthy eating habits, especially among children and teenagers,” Arciero said. “The rampant childhood obesity epidemic is a major risk factor for many diseases, so early intervention through education is critical. As a college professor and nutrition research scientist, in addition to teaching my students about the science of nutrition and healthy lifestyle behaviors, it’s also important for my students to apply this knowledge so they may give back through civic engagement and active citizenship.”

“It’s been interesting to see how the nutrition is useful for everyday life,” said Saratoga Springs High School student Kylie Flynn.

“Like learning how many calories an athlete needs,” said high school student Robert Michalofsky.

“Or how many calories anybody needs,” Flynn added.

The students left the classroom for the great testing ground of the cafeteria, where they offered their smoothie recipes to students coming in for lunch.

“Our biggest challenge is getting students to try new things,” said Abby Case, cook manager at the high school. Case had added a tray of Spanish chick pea stew to the smoothie table.

On National Eating Healthy Day, trying new food wasn’t a problem. Forty-five minutes after the nutrition students arrived in the cafeteria, the samples were gone.

“Having the Skidmore students come made it cool to eat healthy,” Sullivan said

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