For North Andover High School students always on the go, breakfast now comes to them. Last month the school rolled out its food truck after realizing that their sleep deprived students were arriving at school having skipped breakfast and running on empty. “The school nurse would come in looking for salty crackers or something because the kids were not feeling well and they weren’t able to be productive in the classroom,” says food services director Erika Murphy. Now students can fuel up just outside the school’s front door with an array of inexpensive snacks from breakfast sandwiches to cereal and fruit cups.
North Andover school officials have begun to pay close attention to nutrition starting with a complete overhaul of the school’s health and food policy. “In the adolescent population there’s been a twofold increase in obesity and for Type 2 diabetes, a threefold increase in diabetes in the past two decades,” says North Andover lead nurse Katie Vozeolas. So the school is serving up healthy doses of a salad bar, lean meats and fresh fruit. They’re also barring teachers from using food as an incentive or reward. Even so, there remains the tug of snack foods and splashy advertising.
Coca-Cola headlines the cafeteria’s menu and vending areas, but school-wide, advertising is scarce. The school’s superintendent has locked all vending machines during the day and he’s shunned advertising revenue. “We are just not looking for it and we don’t welcome it,” says Superintendent William Allen. “If you’re advertising products in a school, you are implicitly supporting the sale of those products.” And where other schools have been forced to cut back on gym class, North Andover is vigilant about physical activity. Boiled down, North Andover’s lesson is an age-old one: exercise and eat right.