Barbara Reed Stitt, author of Food and Behavior, A Natural Connection had learned about the profound effects of food in the unlikely position of probation officer. The first thing she did with anyone who came under her care was to change their diet. Time and time again their lives turned around.
Appleton Central Alternative Charter High School (ACA) opened its doors in February of 1996 to give individualized attention to students struggling in the conventional school settings. Despite this close attention, students behavioral problems continued to be extremely problematic.
Barbara Stitt and her husband Paul, a biochemist, approached their local school (ACA) with an offer that was as unusual as it was generous. Take out the vending machines, take out the processed foods, and feed the students fresh, whole, nutritious food and watch their behavior improve. And the Stitts will pay the bill. In fact, since the Stitts owned Natural Ovens, a whole foods bakery, their company would send the school plenty of its own healthy fare AND place one of their own cooks on site at the school’s kitchen.
In 1997, ACA teamed up with Natural Ovens Bakery to offer the students a free, nutritious breakfast. The following year (the 1998-99 school year) Natural Ovens sponsored the installation of a full kitchen and dining service (offering both breakfast and lunch).
Appleton Central Alternative High School is, well, an “alternative school”; a place where problem students end up. Greg Bretthauer, the dean of students, was offered the job prior to the program and found the students “rude, obnoxious, and ill-mannered.” The school had so many problems with discipline and weapons violations that a police officer was recruited to be on the staff.
The new program had an instantaneous effect. In the state of Wisconsin, each school is required to file a report each year detailing the number of students who have dropped out, been expelled, committed suicide, or got caught using drugs or carrying weapons. Since the start of the program, the numbers at ACAHS have been the same each year, zero! This would be a stat that any public or private school would be proud of. For an alternative school, it’s nothing short of astonishing.
Appleton Central Alternative High School serves both a nutritious breakfast and lunch. There are no vending machines within the school and no carry-in food and/or beverages are allowed. In addition, ACAHS offers bottled water and encourages students to carry water bottles. Ninety-five per cent (95%) of Central students participate in the nutrition program.
The company that set up the AHAHS lunch program: http://www.naturalovens.com/