photo by Jennifer Werth
Fauquier Reaches for Excellence in School Health (FRESH) is creating new positive and healthy changes in the cafeteria, the classroom and in the community. Along with this advancement comes with the need to gather data.
The largest impact has to start somewhere. FRESH has a goal to form relationships and incorporate health in all aspects. They aim to impact the community, engaging students along the way.
They have piloted cooking clubs, different sports clubs and milage clubs along with weekly visits to the elementary schools. New menu items have become permanent along with peer tasting, a partnership between Southeastern, H.M. Pearson and Coleman Elementary.
FRESH is currently working with consulting group Illumina to show the impact of the research. New supervisor Kristen McAuliffe believes that “when children are healthy, when they are up and moving, they are going to benefit, but we are looking for some real measurable ways to measure those outcomes.”
The FRESH family has been a part of McAuliffe’s life since 2018. During the Books on the Bus summer program, they partnered with FRESH for the movement part. “I hope to bring enthusiasm [to FRESH]. I want to see us have a greater impact on our community,” said McAuliffe. “One of my favorite things is just kind of being out in the community and talking with folks and engaging with them and seeing how we can make things better.”
Her job is to oversee all the positions of FRESH: the Fitness Integration Team Specialist (FITS), the Chef, the Club Managers and the Office Manager. “So all the different groups come together to say what a healthy child looks like in our community,” said McAuliffe.
McAuliffe says that FRESH “is a core group that really cares passionately about the people that we serve.” McAuliffe believes that FRESH increases concern of health, wellness and the importance of having a vibrant community. Everywhere they go, their aim is to show how FRESH is not just about healthy eating habits and exercise.
She is not sure where FRESH will go next but has some big visions that will need the whole community to pull through, for example, a summer food distribution system for the students who receive support throughout the school year.
“I think we want to see, how can we help them throughout the school or at times when school is not in session…because really our goal is to improve the community as a whole,” said McAuliffe.
The lesson McAuliffe has learned from her journey is the power of collaboration. “When you bring different perspectives to the table, and everyone contributes a little bit a lot can be accomplished,” said McAuliffe.