Goodbye to Sloppy Joes, KairosPDX Changes up Lunch

Never underestimate the power of a good meal.

This is the underlying message Marmoset community partner KairosPDX is applying to their lunchroom. Founded by a diverse group of leaders in Portland, Oregon, KairosPDX leads in reducing an iniquitous achievement gap, creating an educational environment that takes on more than just teaching students how to pass a test.

Participating in the “Tasty Challenge,” an event facilitated by the nonprofit group known as FoodCorps, KairosPDX knows that in order to reimagine a better learning environment, they should also be thinking beyond the classroom. Focusing on schools’ cafeterias and their menu offerings, the food program deconstructs the traditional model of a school lunchroom, inviting kids to weigh in on what food not only tastes great, but makes them feel great.

FoodCorps defines the Tasty Challenge as:

Kids taste a vegetable or fruit prepared at least two different ways and vote for their favorite. The school’s cafeteria staff may even decide to put the winning dish on the menu.

““About 73% of FoodCorps schools had measurably healthier school food environments by the end of the school year, and in schools with more of FoodCorps’ hands-on learning activities, children are eating up to three times as many fruits and vegetables.””

KairosPDX has already seen success with the program — when put to a vote, their lunchroom saw a unanimous decision of students favoring the butternut squash soup over another roasted butternut squash recipe. Getting the kids to buy-in to a healthier food initiative, FoodCorps makes it their mission to invigorate students’ relationship with food, even before it lands on their lunch trays.

Connecting kids with the right resources, FoodCorps helps kids understand the time, energy and skills that go into growing their own food. Through offering hands-on lessons like cooking and gardening, the organization ensures a long-lasting impact to champion positive results long after the program has moved onto another school. According to FoodCorps research, about 73% of FoodCorps schools had measurably healthier school food by the end of the school year.

Cultivating better eating habits goes hand in hand with KairosPDX’s very mission. A school in a state recognized for its fourth worst graduation rate and for ranking 40th in the largest achievement gaps, KairosPDX sets out to better understand these obstacles, deconstructing them with partnerships like FoodCorps.

Food may seem small on the grand scheme of educational success, but it’s involving students in a way previous lunchroom models have failed to — a way that perpetuates change: in how children view their nutrition, how they care for themselves and the world around them.

Marmoset is a proud community partner of KairosPDX. Learn more about how you can support their mission and their institution by heading to their site here.

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