Updated: Friday, November 3, 2017 – 3:25 PM
By Laura Coleman
An apple a day keeps the doctor away is one age-old adage that continues to have plenty of merit. Just ask new Horace Mann health aide Sheela Mahdavi, whose background in nutrition and dietetics is already proving fruitful as she makes positive changes at the school with the full support of the administration.
When Mahdavi, who attended Hawthorne as a child, first started working for the district this semester, she immediately observed that there was very little preventative medicine taking place on site. Further, she noted, kids tended to eat carbohydrate-heavy lunches, often eschewing the bountiful fruit options on hand in the cafeteria.
“Ever since I started last month, I continuously heard the kids tell me they were skipping breakfast, having weakened immune systems, indigestion, lack of bowel movements, dehydration, and cognitive dysfunction—and I knew that many of their symptoms would be relieved if they simply consumed more fruits throughout the day,” she said.
After speaking with Horace Mann Principal Juliet Fine, Mahdavi worked with the cafeteria to acquire the excess fruit that children weren’t picking up during lunch. She then, very simply, placed the fruit–apples, bananas, pears–in an attractive bowl in the school’s health office with a sign instructing the kids to take one.
Following Monday’s launch, Mahdavi said the response has been fantastic, with the fruit always gone by the end of the day.
“I came into Horace Mann with the intention to change how the district deals with health,” she said. “I wanted to implement measures to get students healthier.”
While Horace Mann’s Health Office is the first in the district to implement preventative medicine by offering their students fresh fruits to eat at any time of the school day, at no charge, other schools may soon follow suit.
Said BHUSD District Nurse Laurie Linden: “We’re very excited about this new implementation and can’t wait to see the impact on the students’ health. It’s great to see how enthusiastic the kids are about the fresh fruit available in the Health Office. Sheela Mahdavi has been a fantastic addition to our team, and we look forward to seeing more positive changes come.”