Intermediate School kids love the Sardine Club
Every Tuesday around 40 fourth graders meet at lunchtime at Warm Springs Intermediate School with Morgan County Schools Social Worker Gary McDaniel to eat sardines together.
At their gathering, they also talk about the health benefits of sardines and other foods that are high in Omega 3 fatty acids. Kids love the get-together for the food and time with friends.
Foods rich in Omega 3s help the brains of children and adolescents grow and develop better and also improve behavior in all kinds of different kids, McDaniel said.
Research has also shown that Omega 3 fatty acids lower the risk of depression and suicide, protect against traumatic brain injury, increase heart health and reduce inflammatory disease.
Foods that are high in Omega 3 fatty acids include fish, seafood, olive oil, walnuts, flaxseed and beans. Eating more Omega 3 foods and less food that is high in Omega 6 fatty acids such as vegetable oil, French fries, potato chips, crackers, cookies and cakes, helps keep the two fatty acid levels in balance.
Began at Widmyer
The Sardine Club had its roots at Widmyer Elementary when McDaniel brought some cans of sardines to share with students to get them interested in eating fish for the health benefits.
Four fourth grade girls got the program going at the intermediate school a few months ago—MacKenzie Davis, Miranda Castaldo, Isabel Kerns and Natalie Hashem. The Sardine Club started out with just the four of them and kept growing.
Bill Lands and the Morgan County Forum for Arts, Sciences and Technologies (FAST) are sponsoring the group financially with a grant to cover the costs of buying the sardines, McDaniel said.
FAST is also sending home cans of tuna with children through the Morgan County Backpack Program, he said. A few Sardine Club members eat tuna.
Special guests such as teachers, school personnel and community members join them to eat sardines.
Guests have included Morgan County Sheriff Vince Shambaugh, Assistant Superintendent Joan Willard, Intermediate School Principal Joyce Ott, Widmyer Elementary Principal Rick Weber and Susan Caperton.
Shambaugh, who visited on May 1, said he had a great time interacting with the kids and eating nutritional food.
Sardine Club members MacKenzie Davis, Miranda Castaldo, Isabel Kerns, Natalie Hashem, Aleah Hageny, Victoria Lanz and Rileigh Beahm were also interviewed on May 1 about what they enjoyed about the gatherings.
All loved eating sardines while talking with their friends and McDaniel.
“You experience new tastes and enjoy them with your friends,” Lanz said of the club.
Casteldo said the sardine juice is really enjoyable. Davis said that eating sardines “make you smart and pretty.”
Hageny noted that sardines have healthy nutrients like protein and Omega 3s in them that make you have energy and live longer. All the flavors—mustard sauce, tomato sauce and spring water— were tasty.
“They’re really yummy,” she said.
Kids wanted to continue the Sardine Club next year in the fifth grade. McDaniel said they may do the program at Energy Express this summer.
All the kids stay and help clean up after the Sardine Club is over. There’s never a squabble. The club is not only about nutrition, but friendship and social inclusion, McDaniel said.
“It’s been a great program,” he said.