Berkeley’s Revolutionary School Lunches Healthy and Popular

People scoffed and made “only in Berkeley” jokes when the public school system began its comprehensive food education program a few years ago, but now a new study shows that the program is really helping steer children away from Doritos and toward spinach salads.

Anyone who’s ever grown a garden with a kid knows the secret: even the most passionate tomato-hater will eat a cherry tomato if he planted, fertilized, and watered it. And the Berkeley Unified School District’s School Lunch Initiative goes way beyond garden lessons.

KCBS Rebecca Corral Reporting:

“It’s really that integration that we think helps the kids enjoy it,” said UC Berkeley researcher Dr. Pat Crawford. She says the school district’s program means kids get science lessons in the campus gardens. History, math and language classes are often taught in the kitchen, and lunch comes from a cafeteria that’s done away with processed food.

“We found that they knew much more about the kinds of real foods than before, and their attitudes towards them changed; they were more likely to say they liked certain foods.” said Crawford. “One of the more interesting findings is that those who were exposed to this program liked eating in the cafeteria more. That means we actually changed the social norm by beginning this program when the kids were in fourth grade.”

Crawford says their the study shows kids who’ve had a few years of this integrative food approach now eat, on average, one and a half more servings of fruit or vegetables every day, and their parents note that they push for healthier foods at home.

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