At Integrity Academy kids ages three to thirteen experience lunch time and snack time as opportunities “to commune over food in a public setting, with manners and reverence,” says Executive Director Ali Ronder. As beautifully shown in a recent video (above), they use real dishes, glassware, and cloth napkins instead of styrofoam trays and plastic sporks. The kids also help to grow their own food in an organic garden, including a “rainbow garden,” where they are currently planting the red end of the spectrum, including strawberries.
Students learn about nutrition in twice weekly classes, making yummy snacks like banana “sushi” and blueberry smoothies. Ali says that taco day is everyone’s favorite, but all the lunches on the weekly menu are tasty, colorful, and vegan.
Celebrating Integrity Academy’s dedication to serving students plant-based, healthy, organic meals, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine recently awarded the school a “Golden Carrot” and a prize of $750.
“Not only are these foods helping students stay focused and energized in the classroom, but they’re also reducing long-term risk for chronic diseases,” according to Physicians Committee dietician Karen Smith.
The academy’s educational philosophy has always included devotion to a whole food, plant-based diet as the basis for healthy learning. Two full hours of the students’ day are devoted to learning how to care for their own bodies through yoga and games, in addition to nutrition and gardening classes.
Parents and mentors at Integrity Academy point to the fact that even kids who are initially wary end up enthusiastic vegan eaters as their palates develop over time. And with healthy bodies come more energy and the “emotional resilience” that makes learning and getting along with each other so much easier and more fun. All you have to do is take a look at the academy’s blog to see that’s true.