Inglemoor High students are fortunate to have a variety of organized extracurricular clubs to choose from at their school. The menu of options is extensive and contains everything from knitting and opera to astronomy, robotics and hacky sack. There’s even Bite Rite, a nutrition club focused on educating students about healthy eating.
Senior Kenny Song is president and founder of the group, which began last year.
He says, "I wanted to start this club because I saw so many of my peers eat junk food and I wanted to help change their habits. I wanted to show people that it is easy to eat healthy."
The teen believes that it’s important to instill healthy habits in high school students before they go off to college and live on their own. He emphasizes that a healthy diet can help kids reach their full potential in academics, sports and life, and that early education is the key.
"The goal of the club is to inform students that eating healthy is fun, easy and delicious," he explains. He adds, "Establishing a positive environment will help people to continue to improve on their healthy nutrition habits."
Song’s interest in nutrition goes beyond the norm. His passion for the subject led him to write a book, "Nutrition for Success and Confidence," which was published last fall through Createspace.
Its target audience is high school and college students, but Song emphasizes that adults will find the information very useful, too.
The content focuses on healthy alternatives for snacks and meals. Bite Rite meets once a week and engages in a variety of activities.
The group discusses everything from food labels and healthy snack and meal ideas to topics such as nutrition for athletes, new options for the school’s cafeteria and the negative effects of energy drinks and soda.
Students also cook together, preparing healthy snacks like kale chips, fruit salad and hummus.
Last year, Song and several club members worked with the Yale Rudd Center to create a sugary drinks tax proposal.
The teens then went to the Kenmore City Hall to present their proposal to the city council, but it was rejected.
Additionally, they visited a local elementary school to educate the younger kids about healthy eating.
Song talks up the club and encourages other students to participate in order to build membership. He also puts up signs around the school.
Word-of-mouth, however, seems to be the most effective recruitment tool.
The teen, who will soon graduate and attend USC to study health administration, will be passing the reins of the club over to junior Katie Turk.
"I got involved because I love food, health and connecting with people," says Turk. "Bite Rite involves all three." She adds, "There’s a great opportunity for students to become healthier eaters through education and changing the food available in schools. Working with energetic students from the club is the perfect way to make it happen." Turk feels there is a need for this group at the school, noting the growing issue of obesity within our society. She comments, "We can solve this problem if students create better habits early on." The teen explains that Inglemoor offers a variety of food items that are healthy, but many kids still opt for the junk food, perhaps because they’re not aware of what they’re actually eating. She feels that the optimal way to get nutrition information to students is via their peers, adding, "Teenagers don’t always respond well to adults telling them what to eat. If the information is coming from a friend, they’re a lot more likely to be interested."
As for types of changes that could be made on campus in order for students to make wiser choices when it comes to food, Turk says, "Making it easier to grab a healthy salad or sandwich when kids are rushing off to class would help, as would sharing calorie count information and promoting healthy foods in a fun way."
When she assumes the position of president of the club next year, the teen plans to bring in guest speakers, offer more cooking sessions, hold special nutrition-related events at the school and develop a partnership between students and the district to implement new ideas in the cafeteria.
She notes, "Contrary to what most high schoolers believe, healthy food can actually be really, really good. But, changing eating habits is hard, especially given that many kids don’t even think about what they put in their mouths."
The bottom line for Turk is that "people shouldn’t eat just to be healthy; they should eat because they find joy in it."