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In Chicago, a Model School Makes Breakfast Special

Breakfast is a beautiful time at the Academy for Global Citizenship, and it’s a window into what makes my school special. At AGC, faculty and parent volunteers buzz around the cafeteria as students fill their bodies with brain fuel such as vanilla spiced oatmeal, whole grain French toast topped with fresh fruit, crunchy quinoa, or organic free-range eggs.

An Academy for Global Citizenship student in Chicago, Illinois enjoys a healthy meal. At AGC, students enjoy healthy international dishes like veggie Pozole, French crepes, Chinese orange chicken and Greek soup.

An Academy for Global Citizenship student in Chicago, Illinois enjoys a healthy meal. At AGC, students enjoy healthy international dishes like veggie pozole, French crepes and Greek soup.

Here are some reasons we’ve been successful in feeding our kids a delicious, nutritious breakfast each morning:

  • Flavor is key and, contrary to popular opinion, can be achieved without sacrificing nutrition. We use a little agave and fruit to sweeten foods, and make salad dressing and ketchup from scratch.
  • We work with the food service company to make sure we have the best ingredients—from organic kale crisps to hearty Manna bread.
  • Our dishes are often familiar…and often not. 81% of our students come from Hispanic families, so healthy traditional Mexican dishes like veggie pozole are a no-brainer, but we also want to introduce them to international flavors such as French crepes and Greek soup.
  • We take our students’ opinions about food very seriously. We make a careful study of what the students like and what they leave on their plate and adjust menus accordingly.
  • It can be a challenge to get a child to try something new, and it truly takes a village to raise a child who likes kale crisps. Like the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign and the new school meal standards, our goal is to foster a culture of health. Staff model excellent nutrition by eating with students, consuming healthy snacks and encouraging wellness outside of school with a faculty wellness fund.
  • We teach what we preach: Our curriculum supports the food program and vice versa. Students understand the food cycle through “farm-to-fork” lessons and through visits to local farms, restaurants and factories.
  • We’re all farmers: our students are responsible for every part of our school garden, from seed to harvest. When children grow kohlrabi, radishes and kale from seed they cannot wait to taste them.

For the lucky kids at AGC, school food is their food, a proud piece of their identity. AGC and Let’s Move! share a challenging goal: to get children to embrace foods that are good for them as "cool." At 8:15 on 47th street in Chicago, as students line up for seconds of Chef Eddie’s homemade and whole grain granola bars, it feels like we’re getting close.

See other blog posts in this series: