After channeling their complaints about school lunch into an effort to make a real difference, students at Onalaska High School are enjoying healthier, better tasting choices–not to mention some national attention for the improvements they’ve made.
In 2007-08, Amy Yin, then a junior at Onalaska and the student representative to the local school board, was hearing grumbling from students about the elimination of favorite food choices. According to the Onalaska Holmen Courier-Life, it was Principal Peter Woerpel who first planted the idea of starting a Student Nutrition Advisory Committee. Yin, a high-achieving Presidential Scholar semifinalist who got a perfect score on the ACT exam, ran with the concept, and it took off. The committee was a devoted group–meeting multiple hours every week, including on weekends.
Although some of the lost favorites didn’t return–the chocolate chip muffins, for example, no longer met nutrition standards–the students were able to make an important impact. As they learned more about nutrition and the school lunch program, they were able to work with the school to provide choices that were both healthier and more appealing to the student body. These days, Onalaska High School serves fresh fruit instead of just canned, and offers a salad bar that became especially popular after the addition of ingredients in three different colors. Lunch participation and consumption in general is up, too.