Notes from France: “It Takes a Community to Raise Healthy Kids”

April 24, 2007

by Jean Saunders, HSC School Wellness Director

Jean is attending the 2007 International Exchange Forum on Children, Obesity, Food Choice and the Environment in the Loire Valley of France. Her entries will be posted throughout the week.

I have a tough assignment today — keeping my blog post short. I have so much to tell you about the great work I’ve learned is going on in the U.S.

Let’s start with the Marblehead Community Charter Public School (MCCPS) in Marblehead, Mass. Tom Commeret, the principal, explained how “it takes a community to raise healthy kids.”

“Recognizing that children learn best in the context of community, our mission is to create partnerships among community members that assist our students in reaching their highest intellectual, social, emotional and physical potential,” he said. 

The 230 students at MCCPS start their school day at 7:30 with breakfast in the community room. Students and teachers sit at round tables, eating and sharing with each other what they learned the previous day.

Tom says that he and his teachers see the students as partners — as testers and advisors. Students love to complete surveys that ask for their thoughts on the taste, texture and appeal of the school meals, prepared by chef Bill.

As an educator, Tom sees his role as a motivator “to educate children to try alternative offerings and choose foods based on knowledge, taste and health.”