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Peabody School Spaghetti Supper with a Twist

March 24, 2006

The 22nd annual Peabody Spaghetti Supper received a healthy makeover this year.
Under the leadership of family liaison Dede Guthrie and school librarian Judy Siemen, Peabody teachers served a delicious spaghetti dinner with a healthy twist. The team replaced the traditional white flour spaghetti with multigrain spaghetti, added extra vegetables to the sauce, and served whole-wheat bread instead of Italian white bread. Cut vegetables and hummus dotted the tables as appetizers.
Good food was not the only thing on the menu that night. Before the dinner, a group of eighth graders worked up an appetite demonstrating stretches, crunches, and push-ups with their physical education (PE) teacher, Mike O’Connell. The warm-up exercises are part of the Cambridge Public Schools’ annual fitness test.
Later, a panel of experts gave parents tips on healthy living. Cambridge Health Alliance pediatrician Elizabeth Prout explained why healthy weight and activity are important for children and how healthy weight is assessed. School nurse Maureen Gulati emphasized how a good breakfast can improve a child’s overall health and school performance. PE teacher Mike O’Connell offered ideas for engaging children in physical activities. School nutritionist Dawn Olcott talked to families about how to five servings of fruits and vegetables into their daily diet.
“This is always a fun event for the Peabody community to come together, and the health message was a wonderful addition,” said Principal Joellen Scannell. The March 22nd Spaghetti Supper was attended by more than 250 people.
Families also took notice of colorful, hand-made posters on healthy foods that lined the walls. One poster that caught the attention of adults and children alike showed Ziploc baggies of sugar and fat that represented how much sugar and fat are in popular foods and snacks. “We all know that sodas and French fries are unhealthy, but actually seeing those bags of fat and sugar made more of an impact on my son – and me – than just hearing that ‘fries are bad,’” said one parent.
Whole Foods donated the whole wheat bread, and store representatives were on hand to provide nutrition information. Families also had an opportunity to register for a drawing for a Healthy Pantry Makeover. While parents listened and learned, children were involved in physically active games in the gym under the supervision of PE teacher Mike Sheehan and his cadre of 8th grade fitness volunteers.
A Foreman grill, a bouquet of fruit and various health-strengthening gift certificates were among the prizes raffled at end of the evening. Prizes were donated by the Harvest Co-op Markets, Sears, Lanes and Games, Saucony Shoes, City Sprouts, Edible Arrangements and Cambridge Department of Recreation.
The Peabody Spaghetti Supper was co-sponsored by the Physical Education Department of the Cambridge Public Schools and the School Health Program of the Cambridge Public Health Department.

Suzy Feinberg, MPH
Public Information Officer

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