The West Babylon School District has made a commitment to providing a healthy school environment for students and to promoting health and wellness within the district in a myriad of ways.
The food services department, under the direction of Adrianne Goldenbaum, is dedicated to serving students healthy meals that are aligned with the new federal nutrition standards for school meals. In preparation for the new regulations, the State Education Department held a workshop in May 2012.
As a member of the Long Island School Food Service Directors Association, Goldenbaum, who will be retiring in December after 33 years of service, met with other directors after the state meeting to review the complicated regulations in greater depth. She then met with each of the West Babylon school cooks individually, for hours in many cases, creating menus that satisfy the state requirements while remaining appealing to the more than 50 percent of students in the district who eat school lunch.
“The food is not being prepared differently,” said Goldenbaum. “The food that is being prepared is different. All of the bread, pasta and rice components are now whole grain and must weigh a certain amount. There is a larger selection of vegetables and fruit for students to choose from. The amount of protein is limited, and there is now an established limit for caloric intake based on grade level.”
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The district has been nationally recognized with medals by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for its successful efforts in promoting a healthy lifestyle. The district’s elementary schools and senior high school were among the first schools in the nation to be recognized as Silver Level schools. West Babylon Junior High School has been designated with the Bronze Level.
Goldenbaum reflected upon the changing trends in food service.
“When I first started working in this profession, everything was prepared from scratch. Then the trend was fast food. Now there is a much greater awareness of the ill effects of eating processed foods and the trend seems to be going back to the way it was. We hope that these efforts will shape the way that students approach food, and that they will continue to make healthy choices in their lives outside of school.”
The district is also promoting a healthy lifestyle in the areas of physical education and health, where the emphasis has been placed on increasing levels of physical activity. Additionally, students are presented with a greater wealth of information that supports a healthy lifestyle. Also recognizing the importance of emotional wellness as an imperative aspect of healthy living, the district has maintained a strong character education/social-emotional learning initiative in all of its schools.