Healthy eating options promoted at A-JCHS
Since the spring of 2015, students at Anna-Jonesboro Community High School have had more options for lunch than are available at several larger schools in Southern Illinois with the addition of a salad bar.
The availability of the options took hard work by students and family and A-JCHS consumer science teacher Alysha Bottje to make it possible.
Students no longer had an open campus in 2015, which meant they couldn’t leave campus for lunch.
“The main thing was that I wanted them to have more options,” Bottje said.
They made a newsletter and sent it out to people in the community and asked for donations. The goal was $2,000 – and $4,500 was raised.
“A lot of kids may not have healthy options when they go home. If they have the option to eat healthy, I think a lot more kids would,” Bottje said.
She met with cafeteria staff and purchased all the necessary equipment they needed to use, along with the salad bar itself. After all the items were purchased, she still had $2,000 left from the donated funds.
Bottje made a Mission Nutrition account and came up with the idea of making posters, with A-JCHS students in them, promoting healthier eating, to hang in the cafeteria.
“I think it’s good because the kids see people in the school and it makes the cafeteria look good,” Bottje said.
With the help of local photographer Tiffiny Dillow, students came in during the summer of 2015 and took the photos.
Each poster is of a sports team or club with a slogan about healthy eating.
“During the second year, I had people come up to me and ask ‘are you going to do the posters again?’” Bottje said.
Two rounds of posters have been made, but the funds are almost out of the Mission Nutrition account, so no new posters are planned to be made.
A few months ago, the television show “The Spiel” contacted Bottje and asked her and a couple students to come on the show to talk about their salad bar, posters and make a few healthy recipes.
Students Mackenzie Boget and Kortnie Bonner accompanied her.
“It was a good experience for a high school kid to have,” Boget said,
“I thought it was going to be a 30-second clip, but it was a big deal,” Bonner said.
The students and Bottje made bell pepper pizza and apple cookies during their segment.
Boget and Bonner were part of the group of students that helped Bottje raise funds for the salad bar. For them, it was an important option to bring to A-JCHS.
“I really enjoy it because I thought it was different from eating the basic school lunch every day,” Bonner said,
“I play volleyball, so nutrition is something that I need,” Boget said.
The girls said they see about 75 percent of the students utilize the salad bar, whether they have a whole chef salad, a side salad, or just use it for its veggies.
Bottje said she understands change can sometimes be difficult, but with the support of the community and a supportive administrator, it’s been great.
“My principal has been so supportive. He’s taken risks on stuff I’ve come up with and trusted me,” Bottje said.
The episode of “The Spiel” featuring Bottje, Boget and Bonner is scheduled to air March 25 on channel 23. “The Spiel” airs Saturdays at 11 a.m.