For the majority of student-run clubs, desserts are perhaps better recruiters than students. Beginning with candy-filled tables at Club Day, the motto remains consistent: come to our club and we will give you free brownies, free cookies and perhaps even free chocolate cupcakes.
But every Thursday X-block, members of the newly-formed nutrition club can be found eating apples, pears, figs and other healthy snacks, eagerly discussing upcoming activities and events. And though promises of chocolate cupcakes may not be motivating the students to come to the meetings, their motivation is far from lacking, according to senior Ari Appel, the officer and founder of the club.
“Right now, everyone is really excited. We’ve been brainstorming ways to tackle the topic of healthy eating, and we have probably way too many ideas,” Appel said with a smile.
Many of the ideas the club has come up with during their heated brainstorm sessions have revolved around spreading awareness of nutrition to the school through events and projects, as Appel intends the club to “not be an inward group, but instead to really engage the community,” he said.
The club has arranged for the sports nutritionist Nancy Clark to speak to the public at a free event Friday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the film lecture hall. According to Appel, Clark will speak about her work and the connection between exercise and nutrition and will then answer questions from the audience.
In addition to bringing in speakers, the club is hoping to hold a Healthy Cooking Day in which cooking demonstrations are staged in the international café. They are also considering becoming involved in a sustainable farming project at this school.
Appel said the possibilities of bringing nutrition awareness to the school are very exciting, and he thinks it will fill a critical gap in the school community.
In fact, Appel had the idea to start a nutrition club when he realized that “there are no real health classes that cover nutrition at this school,” he said.
“I remember watching ‘Super-Sized Me’ in seventh grade, but that’s just about it,” Appel said. “I wanted to find a way to fill this gap in the Newton North community.”
According to Appel, nutrition is an important topic that he thinks most teenagers do not focus on enough.
In Appel’s own life, healthy eating has played a large role due to his training as a serious biker.
“Nutrition is a huge part of training,” Appel said. “The motto is ‘fuel, train, recover.’ You can’t gain fitness without eating well and resting in addition to training. Since I started cycling seriously, I’ve been doing a lot of research on healthy eating, and I have found that nutrition is essential not only for cycling but also to live a complete, happy lifestyle.”
Senior Roseanna Gessel Larson, a member of the nutrition club, also said that nutrition is an essential topic that she would like to learn more about. Aside from planning school-wide events, nutrition club members meet each week to learn about nutrition and discuss the topic of healthy eating amongst themselves, and Gessel-Larson said that she has “really enjoyed the first few meetings and learned a lot.”
“At the first meeting we watched parts of a really interesting video about a man who went to different schools and talked about nutrition to elementary school students,” Gessel-Larson said. “He would hold up a piece of broccoli in front of the classroom, and most of the kids didn’t know what it was. It was kind of shocking—if you don’t know what something is, you are certainly not going to eat it.”
As indicated by the children who could not recognize a piece of broccoli, Gessel-Larson said that she thinks one of the most important parts of nutrition is being knowledgeable about what you are eating.
“Sometimes people want to be healthy, but they don’t know enough about food to make good choices. There are so many misleading advertising out there with the labels like ‘zero grams of trans fat’ or ‘only 100 calories.’ People often just look at the calorie count and assume that it’s indicative of how healthy a food is.”
According to Appel, this idea of educating people about the food on their plates is one of the central goals of nutrition club, so that people know “what to eat and how to eat.”