Video will teach how to properly use tongs at salad bar

Published in the February 17 – March 1, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Staff Report

Photo by Marty Cheek Students at San Martin/Gwinn Elementary School select healthy foods at the new salad bar.

Photo by Marty Cheek
Students at San Martin/Gwinn Elementary School select healthy foods at the new salad bar.

At San Martin/Gwinn Environmental Science Academy, a team of students are preparing a video for fellow classmates emphasizing the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Among them is sixth-grader Sienna Stutzman who described the project encouraging building healthy eating habits.

“We’re helping students understand how to serve themselves and how healthy eating is good for you,” she said.

Among the issues young elementary students face is how to handle tongs when scooping up lettuce and other salad ingredients onto their plates. The video will help teach them how to serve themselves, she said.

“They can make a lot of messes and it can go on the floor,” she said.

San Martin/Gwinn Principal Claudia Olaciregui said that eating healthy is an important part of building healthy bodies ready for academic learning. And the new focus on fresh fruits and vegetables at salad bars, instead of packaged salads, will help the students build healthy eating habits.

“Our population is high poverty. We have about 69 percent of our kids who are low socio-economic and have free and reduced lunch,” she said. “Unfortunately, those tend to be the population who do not eat healthy.”

Photo by Marty Cheek

Photo by Marty Cheek

The school found many of the students did not know how to use the tongs so they were just throwing the lettuce. And many of them didn’t know how to add salad dressing to their lunch-time veggies, so didn’t enjoy eating plain lettuce. Olaciregui thought a student-made video was needed to teach the young people how to use the salad bar implements and make the choices that were “colorful and interesting and yummy and all that.”

She is working with Michael Stock, a video-audio technician with the Morgan Hill Unified School District, to mentor the students in creating the video that will be shown to all students at San Martin.

San Martin/Gwinn is a pilot program for the school district to get away from packaged salads and go to an open salad bar concept where children can use hands or tongs to take the right portion size and build their own salad, she said.

The program uses the My Plate concept which features a plate that’s divided into four food groups — the vegetable group, the fruit group, the protein group, and the grain group.

In a brainstorming sessions, Stock started the students thinking about the ultimate goal of the video. A sixth-grade student named Kyra Faulkner told him: “I think we need to include something like if you only eat junk food and how it can lead to obesity and health problems.”

Fifth-grader Ben Hayes said: “We can have in the video a series of dos and don’ts. So we’re going to have, like, one guy put a little bit of dressing on his big salad and eat it. And then we can have one guy take one leaf of salad and pour a whole bunch of salad dressing on it.”

Avoiding excessive eating of junk food was another issue the students brought up.

Sixth-grade student Elijah George suggested healthy eating can lead to athletic excellence. “We were thinking like someone who only eats junk food and then when they go for a score in a sport, then they miss. But someone who eats healthy, they go for a score and they make it,” he said.