Wellness and Food Education Programming
Butter Beans’ services extend beyond serving fresh and nutritious food by connecting the importance of healthy eating to the cafeteria through signage, samples, and dialogue. In the cafeteria and classrooms where lunch is served, we can provide visuals and written information regarding our daily menus, including communicating fun facts about food such as “Broccoli is filled with vitamin C – great for keeping your immune system strong!” and “The word potato comes from the Spanish word patata.” These are great conversation starters for students and teachers and bring the importance of choosing healthy foods to their minds while participating in our meal programs.
Our core lunch program encourages students to develop wellness habits through respectful and supportive direct engagement. For example, we provide small tasting cup samples as an easy way for students to become more culinarily adventurous with unfamiliar menu items. Periodically, we will have a food educator in the “cafeteria” to offer a ‘Taste Exploration’ of seasonal foods. These initiatives introduce students to a wider variety of foods and food preparation, and spark conversation about nutritional value and balanced eating.
Student meetings: Led by our Director of Community & Nutrition, these meetings are a venue for us to obtain valuable feedback about our program, along with the opportunity to connect with our communities on a deeper level.
Parent tastings: Led by our Director of Community & Nutrition, the parents of our students are invited to lunch to taste the food and experience the lunch environment. These tastings present themselves as another opportunity for us to connect with our communities, and for our parents to learn more about Butter Beans.
Taste explorations: Butter Beans hosts seasonal taste explorations in the cafeteria. During this mealtime activity, students discover new and interesting facts about where their food comes from, how it grows, and the ways in which those foods benefit their bodies.
Sample cups: We use sample cups at lunch in order to garner enthusiasm for our food, as well as a tool to expand palates in a non-judgmental way. We have witnessed various instances where students who try a new food in a sample cup will come up and ask for full portions, or be more inclined to select that menu item the next time it is served along the lunch line. Our sample cups have proven to facilitate small changes in food habits that usually result in larger changes over time.
Sustainability initiatives: We are active participants in our schools’ sustainability initiatives, including but certainly not limited to composting, gardening, food waste management, and energy use.
The wellness activities described above are incorporated into our core lunch program, with no additional charges to the school or parents. In addition, Butter Beans is able to leverage our Food Education staff and programming to support the school’s wellness initiatives by providing wellness content, programming and resources that are coordinated across lunch, classroom curriculum, extra-curricular activities, events and field trips.
Butter Beans is a mission-driven company, always seeking feedback from the community. Our goal is to do more than merely put food on plates, but to become an integral part of the community-based educational experience at our schools.