Finger Lakes Eat Smart New York (FLESNY) School Wellness PSE (Policy, Systems, Environment) is a SNAP-ed program that works with urban and rural schools – all of which have 50%+ free and reduced lunch rates – to improve their health practices through the implementation of the CATCH program. Led by Cornell Cooperative Extension, FLESNY trains the school teams in CATCH and supports the efforts of CATCH in the schools by attending meetings at the school and district level, providing booster and mini-trainings to school staff, and attending school related events, such as open house, science night, field day, and taste tests in the cafeteria. Sustainability is a difficult task for schools to accomplish due to the culture of schools and staff changes, making ongoing FLESNY support fundamental.
As a result of FLESNY’s vast dissemination of the CATCH program throughout New York, CATCH has yielded great success in its statewide growth and reach. Most notably, CATCH was written in to Elmira City Schools District Wellness Policy. In order to continue this large-scale outreach, FLESNY has assigned an educator to each of their CATCH schools, and FLESNY nutritionists are working in an additional 25 schools located in Cayuga, Chemung, Monroe, Ontario, Steuben, Tompkins, and Wayne counties.
“We are very proud to be a CATCH school [and] our students are very excited to do the food tastings. I can say without reservation we have seen an increase in the number of fresh fruits and vegetables that our students have eaten and taken willingly in the cafeteria.”- Kyle Bower, Superintendent, Glenn Curtiss Central Schools
“During a CATCH cooking class, 15 youth participants were invited to taste our 5-minute Brussels sprouts, which were simply Brussels sprouts sautéed with cranberries. We overheard kids say, ‘It was fast to prepare!’ and ‘I didn’t think I would like it!'”- Iluminada Vilca, Monroe County
“During our CATCH classes, students shared about how they tried new ideas at home with their families. One girl said ‘my little sister drinks more water because I do.’ Another said, he ‘reads the label on his cereal boxes so he can see what is in it.'”- Michelle Weiler, Monroe County
“Newfield Elementary School students read Team Nutrition’s, The Two Bite Club together, which encouraged them to try foods from each food group, by eating just 2 bites. After tasting lentil soup, some students shouted, ‘I’m part of the 10-bite club!'”- Maggie Szpak, Tompkins County
“This is a great GO snack and I can’t wait to make it at home! I learned that if I eat more GO snacks, I will have more energy and be healthier.”- Connor, Student
“When healthy food choices and physical activity are integrated into the school, healthy behaviors follow.”- Justine Cobb, Senior Nutritionist, Finger Lakes Eat Smart NY
“We’ve been able to bring the CATCH program into the cafeteria by incorporating different foods and different instructions throughout the cafeteria that the kids are actually learning in the classroom.”- Donna Riviello, Food Service Director, Hendy Elementary School