In an effort to introduce Cardinal Pacelli students and staff to easy, healthy recipes, the PTO Health & Wellness Committee launched a new program called “Just Try It.” The program started last year and introduces students to healthy snacks using all natural ingredients that they can recreate at home. Once the children try it, they receive a sticker to wear that says “I Tried It!” This gets parents’ attention after school and encourages children to share their experience with family members. One of the program’s founders, Michelle Schwanekamp (along with Lori Perkins), says, “The fun part about the program is when the students realize they just enjoyed a snack that was completely healthy and was made with fruits and vegetables. It’s been an eye-opening experience to see how many kids are unfamiliar with common vegetables that we believe should be a part of their everyday diet. Our hope is that this is a start for many kids to not only try new things, but to add more whole foods to their diet. It’s great to see their faces change from being skeptical to all smiles once they realize healthy snacks can be pretty tasty!”(Schwanekamp) The events are made possible by volunteers and in part have been co-sponsored by Whole Foods Market. Events vary and may include everything from just tasting samples to hands-on assembly of recipes.
In March, the “Just Try It” event enabled students to taste brownies made with pumpkin. After learning what was in the brownies, Isabella Florio, second grader, didn’t want to taste them but was persuaded to do so after seeing that her entire table enjoyed the treat. Alex Pater, first grader, noticed “it’s pretty cool that you can sneak in a vegetable you don’t have to taste!” “Delish! I’d like to make these everyday!” said Lucy Schwendeman, second grader. The recipe for the Brownies was provided to all students so they could do just that.
In April, students made their own Guacamole in a baggie. “Never thought to make guacamole in a baggie; this would be so convenient if I had to take it with me somewhere,” remarked Will Brandenburg as he mixed the ingredients manually. “I love the guacamole so much I put it on my sandwich.” (Caroline Craft, seventh grader)
To date, the Health & Wellness Committee is finding their efforts rewarding and are looking forward to continuing to help Cardinal Pacelli students and staff experience nutritious and delicious options that may help shape their future habits in a positive way.