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Brookside Receives Rave Reviews for Student-Created Snacks, Meals

Volunteers from Anthem work with Brookside students to create nutritious snacks.

The reviews are in. Aspiring chefs at Brookside School 54 are being praised by their family members and teachers for learning how to create healthy nutritious snacks.

From early morning breakfast bars made from oatmeal, raisins and bananas to more complex dinners, staff, students and their families are participating in nutrition and cooking skills programs at the school, thanks to a partnership that brought together cooking and classes.

This programming is due to a partnership between Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, iHeartMedia, and national nonprofit Common Threads. Together, they’ve created a week of initiatives designed to encourage lifelong healthy habits.

“It’s a proud day at Brookside with the kids enjoying their nutritious snacks and having smiles on their faces,” Principal Jeremy Baugh said. “I heard kids say during the healthy eating class that they could make these healthy foods at home for their moms or grandmas.

“We know for certain that in our neighborhood that healthy foods are not often the first choice,” he said. “We want to show them how it can be done with the right access and the right recipes It may be easy to open a bag of chips, but sure taste better if you make your own snacks.”

On Monday, the partnership kicked off a series of interactive nutrition and culinary programs, featuring chef and student-led cooking demonstrations. The program is designed to enhance the food pantry at the school, which continues to provide about 2,000 pounds of fresh produce to the school and surrounding community each month.

The project is a continuation of a partnership that began in 2022 when Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced it was funding a food pantry and fresh produce at Brookside. The school, which is part of the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) district, has become a permanent resource for students and families to access and grow healthy foods.

Common Threads and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield are committed to supporting food-as-medicine programs. Common Threads inspires communities to embrace healthy cooking, healthy eating, and the celebration of culture by providing children, families and educators with hands-on cooking and nutrition education classes.

Common Threads’ cooking and nutrition education programs provide students with the knowledge and skills to identify and cook with affordable and healthy ingredients; increase their vegetable, fruit, whole grain, and lean protein intake; and lower their sugar intake.

This curriculum incorporates experiential learning, culinary medicine, and culturally responsive recipes and teaching practices to support students’ physical, social and emotional well-being.

“I believe we have a strong future here at Brookside thanks to the partnership of these entities,” Baugh said. “As a result, we are seeing more families coming to enroll their children in Brookside as our student population has grown from 267 to 400 youngsters over the last year. I believe that growth is due to the sense of community we have instilled here at Brookside thanks to our incredible teachers and the opportunities we provide for families. It’s a new day for Brookside.”