Anger Management: Turning a Rant into Action

by Sally on November 14, 2012

I admit: I occasionally rant. Every once in a while, I like to get right up on a soapbox and have at it (one of my most popular blog posts is Soccer Mom Soapbox, after all).

While I prefer to call it “therapeutic” and “consciousness raising”, some people see it as complaining. And every once in a while, someone on my Facebook page will tell me to stop whining and do something.

And of course, I do things. But sometimes my knee-jerk reaction is to gripe about something—when really, I should focus on trying to fix it instead.

At the start of the school year, I was at my son’s elementary school one morning during breakfast. They serve fresh fruit every morning, usually apples or oranges. As I sat there with my son, I noticed that while a lot of kids took fruit, hardly any of them ate it. The reason seemed pretty obvious: Peeling an orange is hard work, especially when you’re six. And most of the kids are in some stage of losing or growing their front teeth, not ideal for biting into a hard apple.

So I watched the fruit go straight into the garbage. And I got irritated.

Then I switched gears. I approached the cafeteria manager and (very politely) asked her about the fruit. Was it possible to serve sliced apples and oranges instead? No, she said she didn’t have time — and any leftover sliced fruit on the serving line would have to be trashed. I understood. But what if, I asked, someone sliced the kids’ fruit for them once they had taken it? And what if I organized it  myself — and it didn’t create any extra work for her or the cafeteria monitors?

And with that, the Fruit Ninjas were born.

The Fruit Ninja Program is a group of parents at my son’s school who take turns circulating around the cafeteria in the mornings, asking kids if they’d like to have their fruit sliced. We sign up for shifts of 1-2 parents each morning, and we use a separate room off the cafeteria to cut the fruit (we deliver it to the kids in paper trays).

The students love it. The first morning of our program, I looked around the cafeteria and saw kids eating oranges instead of throwing them away. When bananas are served, we open or slice them by request too (some kids like sandwiching them between mini pancakes). And the morning we sliced fresh pears, a little boy came up to me and said he loved his pear—the first one he’d ever eaten.

What makes this successful? Parents willing to donate a half-hour of their time in the morning. And a principal and staff who care about wellness and are willing to try something new.

No, I won’t stop ranting. Because sometimes, it feels good. But turning a reaction into an action—that feels way, way better.

Image courtesy of kendrickhang via Flickr (cc)

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Triccia November 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Great job!

Is it odd that this line made me tear up?
“And the morning we sliced fresh pears, a little boy came up to me and said he loved his pear—the first one he’d ever eaten.”

Makes me smile!!

Sally November 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Triccia–oh yes, it made me tear up too!

Laura November 14, 2012 at 1:03 pm

It is amazing the powere a simple act can have. Way to go!

Sally November 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Thank you Laura!

Erika November 14, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Wow, this is so cool. And I hope it isn’t weird for me to say I’m so proud of you! I think this is such a wonderful thing you are all doing at your school. Made me smile :)

Sally November 14, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Erika–not weird at all. Thank you so much for the very kind words and for your comment!

Bettina at The Lunch Tray November 14, 2012 at 3:28 pm

What a great story. As a fellow ranter/doer, I agree we need both! :-)

Sally November 14, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Thanks Bettina. And you know I love your rants! I also like that title–Ranter/Doer. :)

Stacy @ school bites November 14, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Love this, Sally! Will definitely be pitching it to our Wellness Committee. In our school, unused whole fruit is put in a basket and left in the hallway–free to a good home. Hungry students and staff have been gobbling it up!

Sally November 14, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Stacy–great idea! I will ask our cafeteria manager what happens with the leftovers. I assumed they were saved for the next meal, but I love the idea of a basket of fruit the kids/parents/staff can grab.

Greenstrivings November 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm

This is brilliant. Thank you! On a microlevel I saw that my children are more likely to eat fruit if it’s peeled for them or cut up, so even when I put an orange into the lunchbox I peel it. Also, at our schools there is so little time to eat that requiring the kids to peel an orange means they don’t have time to eat it once they’ve got the peel off, if that makes sense.

Anyway, thank you for helping the children at your school and for sharing this wonderful idea!

Sally November 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Thank you! And yes, time is a huge factor, so things need to be quick and accessible. Thanks for your comment.

Robin Jingjit November 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm

I love that idea… so often we think things are inevitable, but sometimes there are awesome solutions waiting. And the name is genius since ever kid loves Fruit Ninja! :)

Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean November 14, 2012 at 8:29 pm

this is awesome!!!! great job Sally

Sally November 14, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Thank you Lindsay!

Sally November 14, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Robin–yes, we figured the kids would get a kick out of our name! :)

stef November 14, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Love it! and love the name.

Sally November 14, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Thanks Stef!

Becky November 15, 2012 at 1:53 pm

As always, your post is spot on. Curious, why do your kids have breakfast at school? And why were you eating their with them?

Sally November 16, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Hi Becky–thanks for your nice words. At my son’s school, all students wait in the cafeteria before school starts, whether they are eating breakfast or not. Some mornings my son eats there, some mornings he doesn’t–and either way, he likes me to wait with him until his buddies show up :) . Lately, he’s been eating school breakfast though–and that’s actually the topic of next week’s post! :)

Nancy January 5, 2013 at 11:09 am

Thank you for finding an answer instead of just ranting. As a Child Nutrition Director at a small school district, I find it’s rare for parents to actually look for a solution they can implement but rather expect the district to do it all.

Jessica January 14, 2013 at 6:12 am

I think that should be a national program! I know my kids always want me to peel or cut their fruit before they eat it.

s monsees January 14, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Great Job Mom ! I work in a small school kitchen and I applaud you. Most parents
I encounter don’t care enough. Many of our students DO NOT get fresh fruit at home
and don’t have a clue as how to eat it. We have the advantage of time to prep our fruits and vegetables. We are part of the fresh fruits and vegetable program that supplies
grant money to pay for food and our prep time. They get this in the morning .
99 % of our students arrive by bus, so a breakfast plan is still in the making. Our elementry kids now look forward to this snack in the morning and teachers rave about the improvements in attention. Don’t be afraid to approach the administration if the
kitchen staff is giving you the cold shoulder .

Angie February 22, 2013 at 10:05 am

Go Sally! You’re amazing. I’m an occasional lurker on your blog, but I am so impressed by this post (and what you did) that I had to cheer. This is so awesome on so many levels, and I love that you got a child to try his first pear!

Sally February 22, 2013 at 10:22 am

Thank you Angie! So happy to see your name on here. :)

Sally February 22, 2013 at 10:23 am

Thank you so much! Nice to hear you have time to prep your fruits. I think that helps tremendously. Thanks for your encouragement!

Maria February 28, 2013 at 6:50 pm

I cannot believe I have never read your blog!!! All these years seeing you at the rec center and I had no idea! My youngest is now 15 – but when she was 5 – I was the mom bringing orange slices or bananas and water – everyone hated when I had soccer snack. I was so relieved when at 8 she started playing travel soccer and the coaches preach good health and healthy habits. I love your blog and am so excited to have found it!
Nice job Sally – this is really great!

Sally March 1, 2013 at 9:11 am

Thanks Maria, for such a nice comment. Glad to hear that the coaches might start requesting healthier stuff as the sports get more competitive and serious!

christine edwards April 10, 2013 at 9:18 am

I live across the street from Sherman Elementary school, and i would love to be a FRUIT Ninja….

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