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A Nutrition Transformation at Lamar Middle School

Lamar Middle School
Austin, TX

In 2011, Action for Healthy Kids funded a project to revamp the cafeteria at Lamar Middle School in Austin, Texas. New paint and signage encouraged students to eat healthier, but the story didn’t end there: An additional grant from Action for Healthy Kids provided their first garden bed. Over the past seven years, that has become 15 garden beds, a composting program, and a recycling program implemented with help from the PTA. Lamar was also one of the first Austin ISD schools to implement a Farm to School program.

The principal encouraged even more healthy change by introducing three culinary arts electives that teach nutrition, cooking, gardening, and math. These classes continue to be the most popular electives in the school. The garden has grown with the recent addition of a cistern for collecting rainwater and several chickens. But it’s not just food that got an overhaul; Lamar added water bottle filling stations to the hallways, and the teachers were provided with bottles to help model healthy behavior. For students to receive a water bottle, they must first answer nutrition questions to earn theirs.

To complement the nutritional changes, Lamar also created several physical activity programs, including:

  • Hosting Family Fitness Fun nights that involve the whole school and share information on easy ways to be healthy
  • Providing pedometers to teachers to track their steps
  • Creating a program called Scottie Dads, where dads come during lunch to facilitate outdoor physical activity with students
  • Opening the gym in the mornings for students who arrive early to be active
  • Building outdoor learning areas

The amount of change that Lamar has seen in just seven years is remarkable, and they remain a shining example of what healthy schools can look like.