banner ad
Experts Logo


Urban School Myth Busted by Micro-Experiment: Do Teens Really Hate Healthy Foods?

By: Dr. Virginia Rhodes
Tel: 513-207-2566
Email Dr. Rhodes

View Profile on

OK, I did learn enough in 35 years of high school teaching, administration, and marriage to know one thing: The way to anyone's heart is through their stomach! Feed them, and they will come.

Recently, I volunteered to assist on an "Intersession." This is a spring experience where the Hughes STEM High School teachers in Cincinnati take all 1,000 kids from grades 7-12 out of the building, "out of the box," and blow their minds for a week. This involves 40 different venues where teacher and kids will do some heavy bonding while learning something new on an adventure out in the world. In our case, it meant new adventures for a student population of whom 88% of their families live in poverty.

When collaborating with the social studies teacher in charge, we knew that the 20 students that had signed up for our session would be way more interested if they knew a snack was coming in each of our prep sessions leading up to Intersession week. Our Intersession was an outdoor adventure in the nearby College Hill neighborhood to explore the history of the Abolitionists of the early and mid-1800's, and their work to support the Underground Railroad.

In the first week, just for introductions, we had no snacks. Energy was minimal, reminding me that our decision to serve them needed to be implemented immediately, not waiting for the big week.

The second week, I got in a hurry, and it being the week before Mardi Gras, I brought a King cake & donuts at the bakery that was on the way to school. There were donuts left over, but bottles of orange juice and water, got devoured. The kids, who had mostly ignored me the first week, lined up for donuts and the Baby Jesus in the cake, and gave me a polite "thanks. "

Ashamed of my admitted failure to deliver on our plan of a healthy snack, I brought better stuff next week. Students looked up and smiled when I entered this time. Out of time, as always, I had picked up "luncheables," the little packs of deli meat, cheese, & crackers from the grocery store. At least this would give everyone some protein, which I knew our kids were generally short on in the mornings. I decided to conduct a little experiment by buying a bag of fresh clementines, apples and grapes, along with a few tuna and chicken lunch kits, little boxes of raisins, and string cheese.

I also brought 3 different kinds of juice. Knowing that I've seen kids gulping down wild-colored sugar drinks for years, I brought a hot pink "juice drink," knowing that this bottle had hardly ever seen a drop of real juice, and a cranberry-white grape mix. I also got apple juice, but figured I'd end up taking that one home, because they'd think of it as a "baby drink."

That apple juice never made it home. Neither did the fruit, cookies, string cheese, tuna, nor chicken kits. Only one student wanted the raisins. Several students smiled, spoke to me and told me goodbye as they left that day. No one asked where the donuts were.

The 4th week, I brought apple juice, a few "luncheables," and big fresh bagels from a nearby shop, along with more apple juice. The bagels were an assortment, including jalapeno, cheddar, sesame & "everything," and there was a container of plain cream cheese and a sweet honey one. Two kids came up and asked me if I had any of the tuna & chicken kits, and were disappointed until I promised to get some for next time. The bagels were quickly scarfed, and the apple juice ran out, but nobody ate much of the honey cream cheese.

The kids talked and joked around with me like old friends, beginning to talk and ask questions about the topic they had been so lukewarm over at the beginning.

Our conclusion? Contrary to most of what we adults think, teenagers will eat healthy food, and will even choose it over sweets. When I left off the sweets, there was no rebellion or griping. My advice to both parents and educators: Eliminate the garbage that they have so told us they want, and just present a variety of healthy foods. If they're hungry, they'll eat it, and will likely do better in their classes and in keeping a more even social temperament.

Virginia Rhodes, EdD has an extensive background in Urban Public Schooling. She has over 35 years of experience in School Policy, Strategic Planning, Organizational Development, Administrative, Supervisory, Evaluation and Instruction in K-12 settings.

©Copyright - All Rights Reserved


Related articles


5/16/2017· Education & Schools

Supreme Court Opinion Regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder and Student Progress

By: Dr. Steven Imber

On March 22 the U.S. Supreme Court issued an 8-0 opinion in the case Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, ruling in favor of the parents of a student with autism spectrum disorder who had charged that the district did not meet the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA. The parents argued that their child did not receive a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) that was mandated by Congress.


5/15/2015· Education & Schools

School Liability for Student Field Trip Injuries or Death

By: Dr. Edward Dragan

For schools, summer camps, and day care centers, one of the key functions of student supervision is to identify dangerous conditions and then either stop the activity or warn of the danger. The supervisor must take appropriate action for the protection of the children. Duty to warn contemplates both having knowledge of danger (actual or constructive notice) and having time to communicate it. Field trip injuries are very common and there is an equal duty to protect when children are off campus but still under school supervision, such as when children are on a school-sponsored trip. Excursions off school property present special challenges. Careful planning ahead of the trip, knowing about potential safety hazards, and creating a plan to avoid or mitigate them can help to protect a child from field trip injuries and a school from liability lawsuits.


7/1/2014· Education & Schools

Private School Lawsuits: Contractual v. Constitutional Standard of Care

By: Dr. Edward Dragan

The relationship between private schools and their students is very different than the one that exists when a student is in a public school. In private schools, the relationship is contractual in nature. The contract is expressed or implied in written documents, such as promotional literature, student applications, and student and staff handbooks. By contrast, the relationship between public schools and students is governed by federal and state statues, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Title IX. In public schools, students are afforded constitutional, substantive, and procedural protections that are generally not applicable in a private school. In private schools, academic and conduct issues involving students raise contractual, as opposed to constitutional, issues.

; broker Movie Ad
Unicourt Logo Button

Follow us

linkedin logo youtube logo rss feed logo