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“As the NCAA tournament (March Madness) began last year, I thought to myself, how can I tie this awesome event into our PE/Health curriculum in 2017?”
That was the question educator Steven Louka wanted to answer to help his students find a creative way to eat healthy foods and exercise. As the supervisor of the physical education, health, and wellness department for New Brunswick schools, Louka began to share his tournament-style competition with others and received positive feedback and encouragement to move forward with the program.
“The premise of this competition is to get our students to realize how easy and fun eating healthy can be. There’s a wide variety of healthy and affordable snack options,” Louka said.
Louka worked with FoodCorps service member Hayley Klein to develop rules and regulations for the competition. In true tournament fashion, classes from grades 3 to 7 competed against each other by creating unique and aesthetically pleasing healthy snacks. Two classes were initially selected as winners from every grade level. Those two classes then competed against one another, narrowing it down to one class winner per grade.
In the end, the fifth graders in Mrs. DeMato’s class at McKinley Community Elementary School created the winning snack, “Yummy Avocado Toast with Salsa Fresca.” Check out photos of some of the creative entries above.
Louka hopes the winning snack finds a way onto the school lunch menu. He also anticipates next year’s competition will grow larger among the student body and he isn’t alone. “It’s incredible to see the impact that Steven has created with the March Snackness program,” said Meredith Masin-Blount, senior director of youth services for New Brunswick Tomorrow and project director for New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-New Brunswick. “It just proves that educating students about healthy snacks and physical activity can be fun.”
“I learned that students from all grade levels wanted to be the 2017 March Snackness champion,” said Louka, who was incredibly pleased with the buzz the March Snackness event created among students. “Ultimately, I hope that students have gained an excitement over healthy eating that will carry over into their homes.”