Gemma Porrino, a Grade 5 scholar at GFS, recently wrote to Ben Leahey, the Charwells Director in WPS. She inquired about the possibility of having a broader variety of healthy options during elementary lunch. Gemma shared a history of lunches at GFS and reflected on there previously being salad options and a salad bar. Gemma advocated for there to be healthier options reintroduced into the elementary cafeteria. The best part about her request, it was humble and selfless. She shared how having these healthy options would increase the number of people who buy lunch and choose healthy options. Most importantly, she understood that a change might not be immediate and that she was fine with that, as long as the change was made. She informed Ben that even if the changes were made after she left elementary school this year it would be great for future students to have healthy options, not just at GFS but across the district.
In response, Ben replied within a day. He thanked Gemma, gave his own reflection and knowledge and then the best part occurred. Ben shared that Chartwells would start introducing healthy options in November of this year and that they will become one of the daily choices. He also highlighted some of the other forthcoming healthy meals that will be rolled out as part of the food services offered in WPS. He thanked Gemma for her feedback and insights. It was a great example of a student advocating for the community, using their own voice and inquiring about a passion that benefits all. Equally, Ben was fantastic in responding to Gemma, not just because he had a positive answer, but in his own community building and approach to relationship building.
The next week we invited Ben to GFS to introduce him to Gemma. Then we wrote to congratulate Gemma and share with her family. We are extremely proud of Gemma. She identified a need, thought of a solution and advocated for the needs of others. She wrote a great email to an adult that was well received and led to dialogue that created healthy options for our community. Her student agency is inspiring to our entire community. This entire process highlights so many of the aspects we aim for within the WPS mission and how we achieve these goals and our commitment to them.