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Advisory contest encourages students to donate cans

by Christine Ong

November marked the start of the Lincoln’s Annual Canned Food Drive and Advisory Competition to donate the most cans. Canned Food Drive picture. JPG.JPGThe canned food drive lasted from Nov 1 to Dec 12, and the barrels were collected on Dec 13 by the Salvation Army. After the Salvation Army picked up the barrels, they were delivered to the San Francisco Food Bank. 

The competition has existed for over twenty years and has always been a contest between the advisories. The advisory that donates the most cans and wins the contest is treated to a pizza party funded by the Associated Student Body.  

This year 2,715 cans were donated during the competition. More were donated after the competition ended but were not counted. Rebecca Gerek’s advisory, 13 TA, won the contest by donating a total of 673 cans. According to Gerek, the advisory was self-motivated to donate. “I did absolutely nothing. Last year, that same homeroom donated two cans,” said Gerek. 

“This year, I don’t know what the final numbers were, but it was huge. They just decided they weren’t going to lose, and every day they checked in how much everybody else had [donated] and they just went and got more and more and more cans,” remembers Gerek. “All I did was get them delivered to the RO room.” 

The massive donating, however, didn’t start right away. “It [the start of the massive donating] was about halfway through. Once it started, it was like an avalanche. Every day, different people [were] coming in with duffel bags, rolling carts, suitcases filled with food.”

13 TA’s determination will not only show in the canned food drive, but in future competitions. “They wanted to win; it’s their senior year, and I don’t want to give away our strategy for other competitions that are coming up, but they just want to win everything that they possibly can as a homeroom. That’s their motivation: they want to go out on top.” 

Even the reward of a pizza party wasn’t the motivating factor for the seniors. “The reward was nice, but that’s not why they did it. They did it so they could beat other classes because at one point I told them with as much money that they had spent going to the store and buying canned food, they could have bought their own pizza party. They said they didn’t care; they just wanted to win. It wasn’t that they wanted the pizza party, they wanted to win.”

Usually, the winning advisories are academy advisories due to their unique structure. Christine Eng, coordinator of the advisory contest, says, “It’s usually the advisories who have a strong advisory teacher who motivates the kids to participate… And because academy advisories are made up of kids who are motivated for that particular subject matter, they tend to win because they’re kids who are motivated to be part of a team.”

Gerek agrees about her academy homeroom, “And they’re also a group of students that work together a lot because they’re Teacher Academy, so it’s not like a group of 35 strangers that only see each other twice a week. It makes a difference being an academy.”   

Donating cans is not limited to students only; teachers and staff can also donate cans, which creates some competition among advisory teachers. “We encourage friendly competition. I wouldn’t say it’s always friendly,” Eng said with a laugh. 

Even though there may be a competition to win, the real reason to donate cannot be forgotten. Eng says, “[We have] to think about people other than ourselves. Because we have to think about our community, we have to show our neighborhood that we can care, and it’s good to teach kids to care about others.”

George Gardner, sergeant of the Junior Reserves Officer Training Corps says, “It’s part of our community service and JROTC ... Part of our values is to give back to people who are hungry during Thanksgiving and Christmastime or holiday time mainly because who knows when we’re on the receiving end. Maybe we’d like someone to do something if we’re hungry. Probably what’s on the bottom of the Statue of Liberty: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses’ needing food.”

“If people haven’t ever volunteered at the San Francisco Food Bank, they should,” says Gerek. “When you volunteer there, you learn how many people can be helped by your efforts, your minimal efforts—not a lot. It doesn’t take much for you to help a lot of people.” 

New vendor partners with SFUSD for increased quality of school lunches

by Andrew Tang

   Obesity and health are issues concerning many children and adults across the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 19% of U.S. children (ages 6-11) and 17% ofIMG_2538.JPG adolescents (12-17) are obese, meaning that about 13 million out of the country’s 76.1 million children of 2012 were not up to health standards.

      Lunches at schools however, provide the students with a fruitful meal for energy throughout the school day.  Many schools across the country have lunch programs that are unfortunately helping to further the national health concerns.

      Dec. 21, 2012 was the day when the students of San Francisco Unified School District would eat their last frozen lunch. Student Nutrition and SFUSD chose Revolution Foods as the new vendor. RF’s contract was approved on the 17th of December with a system that requires meals to be freshly prepared, never frozen, have no high fructose corn syrup (containing sugars that are linked to diabetes), trans fat or additives that parents dislike, such as MSG and sodium.

      Ed Wilkins, the Student Nutrition Services director said, “Bringing in fresh meals has been the goal for 15 years at SFUSD.”

      Jan. 7, 2013 was the first day a real meal served hot and prepared the day before, not frozen, was served. The first day’s lunch was zesty beef with pasta and enchilada. The usual requirement of low fat milk and a fruit is continued. The menu throughout the month of January included, sandwiches, spaghetti, buffalo wings, tamale, chicken teriyaki, pasta/chicken alfredo, beef hotdog and cheese burger. The fruits are apples, carrots, pears, oranges and bagged grapes and vegetarian option is always included.

      It has been proven that school lunches influence an unhealthy diet and make those who eat it more likely to become obese.  According to a study by University of Michigan, those who eat school lunch are likely to have high levels of bad cholesterol and effects that lead to heart disease and premature death. The U-M Cardiovascular Center researchers analyzed health behaviors of 1,297 sixth graders for three years. According to the study, those who regularly eat school lunches have a 38.8% chance of becoming obese, while the children who eat home lunches have a 24.4%.  Those who eat school lunches also have a 25.8% chance of consuming sugary drinks, compared to the 11.4% of those who eat home lunches. They also eat much less vegetables (16.3% to 91.2%).

      The U.S. Department of Agriculture spends about $13.3 billion dollars annually on the National School Lunch Program and spends $1 billion dollars each to year to send fresh products to schools. According to the New York Times, any of those fresh products like potatoes or chicken are turned into fat laden, processed food by 3rd-pary food processors. Right now, $445 million worth of commodities are sent for processing each year (a 50% increase since 2006). Schools that get free food often cook it as they should, but still have many who pay processors to turn these products into fatty processed food.

      School authorities like Michigan Department of Education get free raw chicken that is worth $11.40 but is turned into packaged chicken nuggets that cost $33.45. San Bernardino turns $5.95 potatoes into $14.75 fries.

      The U.S. Department of Agriculture has guidelines intended to address childhood obesity levels, setting limits on calories, phasing in more whole grains and requiring at least one veggie/fruit to be offered per meal. Most schools have been meeting the most of the standards, but with 70% that do not meet the requirement of containing less than 10% of calories coming from saturated fat. About two-thirds of schools meet the standards for protein, calcium, vitamin A and C and other nutrients. Lincoln High School is one of those two out of three schools that serve food that is passable. The school does require a student to take at least one fruit or veggie every meal, and there is the option of taking meat and cheese put between two pieces of bread, if the main course is missed, but things are only getting better for nutrition and health at the school.

      Rose, one of Lincoln’s lunch ladies said about the previous school lunches, “This is my job, so I have to serve whatever we have. We had chicken, parmesan, spaghetti, pizza, cheese burgers..Some I dislike. Some I approve of. Not all is healthy but it meets school requirements.”

      Revolution Foods is the new vendor of one of the biggest food programs in San Francisco, available for the serving of over 55,000 students at 114 schools across the city. The students will have meal options that exceed USDA nutrition requirements, that are believed to improve student wellness. Revolution partnered with 850 schools across the country ever since 2005 to promote good eating habits. The members of the program look forward to partnering with SFUSD and want better nutrition for the youth in the United States who are currently struggling with a concerning issue with diet. This is a step to improve the lunch conditions that are not assisting the 13 million unfit children.

      Kristin Groos Richmond, CEO of Revolution Foods said, “We’re excited to partner with San Francisco Unified School District to provide healthier school meals in their diverse population of students in the state’s eighth largest school district...We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with students of San Francisco schools to receive kid-designed, healthy and delicious school meals so they can build healthy bodies and minds.”