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Healthy Advisory Snacks Promote Better Student Food Choices and Improve Cognitive and Physical Performance

The pilot program is part of the school’s ongoing health and wellness initiatives.
To promote the myriad benefits of healthy eating to Upper School students, St. Margaret’s is providing healthy, tasty advisory snacks during the month of October. For the first Advisory this week, St. Margaret’s delivered berry banana burst smoothies from Nekter Juice Bar to all Upper School students, and will continue providing different healthy advisory snacks for the next three weeks.
Students also heard an informative presentation at Convocation this week by guest speaker and registered dietitian and nutritionist Melissa Mathes. She shared how nutritional choices affect a student’s cognitive function, growth and development, as well as athletic performance. The effort, a part of the school’s ongoing health and wellness initiatives, aims to expand students’ perspective on their personal meal choices and how those contribute to their academic and physical performance, mood and mind and body development. 
“We are working together across the school to help support healthier student food choices, especially for them as growing, active adolescents who need quality sources of energy to fuel their brain and physical development throughout the day.” said Patrick Bendzick, director of athletics and physical education who also oversees the school’s health and wellness leadership team. “St. Margaret’s students are focused and conscientious about their individual growth and development. We believe providing them with compelling information to their health, along with tasty and nutritious options during the day, will impact their personal decisions and contribute positively to their overall well-being and performance in the classroom and elsewhere.”
The advisory healthy snacks is a pilot program in October and school leaders will listen to student feedback and look for ways to incorporate more healthy food snacks on campus throughout the day.
Ms. Mathes spoke at length during her presentation about how nutritional choices, including mid-day snacks, can impact academics and activities throughout a student’s day. She demonstrated which foods are “low-quality fuel,” how poor food quality can lead to inconsistent energy, impaired decisions and motor skills, and for athletes, how “junk” foods can hinder recovery and increase risk of injury.
In addition, she touted the tremendous benefits on a growing body of healthy food options, including healthy carbohydrates, plant fats, protein and hydration and explained how each can increase immune function and improve performance in the classroom and elsewhere.
St. Margaret’s has emphasized health and wellness this school year, developing new programs to support nutrition, fitness, rest, emotional and spiritual well-being, mindfulness and critical life skills, including the new schedule and the recently launched Innovation Block. It is part of a priority in the school’s Strategic Plan to lead initiatives that help students live happy, fulfilling lives. Providing a healthy, tasty advisory snack this month was an idea brainstormed by the school’s health and wellness leadership team comprised of all-school counselors, school nurses, chaplains, division directors of community life and physical education teachers.
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An Independent Preschool Through Grade 12 College-Preparatory Day School in Orange County California

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